News

"Stop the Unconstitutional War in Yemen": Rep. Ro Khanna on Growing Opposition to US-Backed War

Truth Out - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:00

The US-backed, Saudi-led war and naval blockade in Yemen has sparked a cholera epidemic that has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern world history. There are expected to be a million cases of cholera in Yemen by the end of the year, with at least 600,000 children likely to be affected. The US has been a major backer of the Saudi-led war. But in Washington, opposition to the US support for the Saudi-led war is growing. Lawmakers recently introduced a constitutional resolution to withdraw all US support for the war. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Congressmembers Ro Khanna, Walter Jones and Mark Pocan wrote that they introduced the resolution "in order to help put an end to the suffering of a country approaching 'a famine of biblical proportions.' … We believe that the American people, if presented with the facts of this conflict, will oppose the use of their tax dollars to bomb and starve civilians." We speak with Ro Khanna, Democratic congress member from California.

Please check back later for full transcript.

 

Categories: News

Does the Western Left Have an African Problem?

Truth Out - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:00

 JOHN WESSELS / AFP / Getty Images)A young boy looks on from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as smoke rises from an ongoing attack, allegedly carried out by the Seleka Militia on the village of Mobaye in Central African Republic (CAR) on September 21, 2017 in Mobayi-Mbongo. (Photo: JOHN WESSELS / AFP / Getty Images)

Most Western leftists who espouse anti-imperialist, antiwar, anti-colonial politics agree that there can be no hierarchies of oppression, but that rhetoric does not hold up when it comes to African countries, their revolutionaries and self-determination struggles. In fact, African countries and their politics are almost never discussed in leftist circles except to make points about imperialism or China.

 JOHN WESSELS / AFP / Getty Images)A young boy looks on from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as smoke rises from an ongoing attack, allegedly carried out by the Seleka Militia on the village of Mobaye in Central African Republic (CAR) on September 21, 2017 in Mobayi-Mbongo. (Photo: JOHN WESSELS / AFP / Getty Images)

"Africa fed the world, but the world eats without Africa."
— Dr. E. Obiri Addo

In 1983, Audre Lorde wrote that, "among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children, there can be no hierarchies of oppression," and that the act of placing oppressions on a scale of hierarchal importance is an oppressive act in itself. Of course, most on the left -- particularly those in Western countries who espouse anti-imperialist, antiwar, anti-colonial politics -- would agree with this in theory, but many seem to fall short of this analysis of anti-hierarchal political sentiment when it comes to the continent of Africa. There seems to be a deficit of caring -- or rather, caring enough to self-educate, research and act -- within the Western left on the current movements, histories and activism within African countries.

On the left in the West, we tend to critique global situations of state violence which are exacerbated and perpetuated by Western influences, and rightfully so. The left has aptly rallied against US intervention in places like Syria, where US airstrikes have already claimed thousands of civilian casualties. Western leftists have spent decades advocating for the rights and humanity of the Palestinian people against Israel's illegal settlement of their land, and the violence it perpetuates against Palestinians. Due to its relation to an active socialist project, the inner-workings and uprisings of Venezuela have been an integral part of the left's anti-imperialist praxis in the last year. We see the Western left prominently supporting the movements, self-determination struggles, anti-interventionisms and basic humanity of several communities in various parts of the world, and these communities certainly deserve much more support than they are currently receiving. However, when will there be room to support African struggles equally on this roster?

A few years ago, I began working closely to create political education events in Atlanta through the Walter Rodney Foundation, an organization that is headed by the family of the late Guyanese revolutionary intellectual Walter Rodney. Since then, I have watched double standards in oppressive hierarchy play out in real time, both online and in person. As an organization that works to bring radical African and Caribbean activists, academics and artists from throughout the African diaspora to Atlanta to discuss both historical and contemporary politics in Africa, many of our lectures and panels have audiences filled with Marxists, anarchists, radical feminists and womanists, and other left thinkers who come to hear Pan-African takes on current events. Each time I lecture on the violence in South Sudan, which can certainly be summarized as a conflict deftly exacerbated by the US and other outside profiteering agitators, or any other African-related topic, I watch faces in the audience fill with astonishment -- this knowledge appears to be completely new to them.

The US left is nearly silent on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where violence, instability and civil war have ravaged the country for decades now. In the DRC, the UN has massively failed in its various "peacekeeping" endeavors, having worsened the violence in many instances. UN peacekeepers stand accused of over 700 cases of rape and sexual assault, but most have not been held accountable. Since 2016 alone, more than 1.3 million refugees have been displaced in the DRC due to conflicts.

The interpersonal violence and downright instability within the country can also be partially (if not mostly) blamed on American and European development institutions and multinational corporations that use what is now called "agro-colonialism" to dominate the region through corrupt land-grabbing and human rights violations. Arguably one of the world's most mineral-rich countries with billion-dollar mining contracts that benefit mostly US, Swedish and Canadian-based companies, and include the use of hiring private militias and child slave labor for mining, the Congolese people have had their land and humanity trampled by Western forces for decades through capitalist exploitation and violence, yet few "Hands Off the Congo" campaigns have permeated the Western left's scope of interest as similar countries, such as Venezuela, have.

Similarly, we can see this hierarchical placement of global oppressions played out in the lack of coverage, sentiment and knowledge of the war in South Sudan, the world's "newest" country. As investigative journalist Nick Turse details in his 2016 book Next Time They'll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan, the creation of South Sudan in 2011 was a project that the US helped solidify under a bipartisan committee, following two long civil wars that stretched from 1955 to 2005 and cost over 6 million lives, bolstered by the US's funneling of military equipment to "rebel groups" from 1996 onward. This military equipment exacerbated already-present conflicts, heightened by millions of dollars of weaponry funneled through Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda. Along with this, news of Hillary Clinton's State Department issuing waivers to allow the South Sudanese military to use child soldiers, despite specific law banning nations from providing military assistance to countries that use child soldiers, should have caused an international outcry led by the US left, but sadly, it didn't.

Today, South Sudan is on the brink of yet another civil war while US presence in the country increases, assumedly bidding for access to Sudan and South Sudan's million-dollar oil reserves. South Sudan is one of the most armed populations in the world, with arms deals from Israel, Ukraine, Canada, Iran, Britain and China, and others fueling a bulk of the violence. As outside forces arm both sides of the South Sudan conflict and continue to profit from the imminent violence -- similar to occurrences in Iraq and Syria that have rightfully caused outrage from the left -- the future of South Sudan seems depressingly abysmal. Again: Where is the outcry from the Western left? Where are the campaigns and marches, and where is the inclusive discourse?

As we begin to peel back the layers of this hierarchical placement of importance and solidarity, we must understand that it involves not only the current events that are allowed to dominate public leftist discourse, but also the histories and movements commonly studied and revered as well. While many can name the works of Marx, Gramsci, Foucault, Luxemburg, Lenin, Trotsky and other big-name left thinkers, few on the broader US left can name more than a handful of African revolutionaries. Similarly, few take the time to self-educate on the revolutionary uprisings and states which flared in places like Beninthe DRCGhanaZanzibarAlgeria or Senegal, and rarely are they familiar with the decolonization work of people like Walter RodneyFrantz FanonThomas Sankara (known as "the African 'Che'"), Patrice LumumbaSteve BikoJulius NyerereSékou TouréKwame Nkrumah or Winnie Mandela.

The vast histories of modern movements, struggles, revolutionaries and politics on the African continent are nearly erased by the Western left, rarely spoken of except when used to make a cross-point. That is, African countries and their politics are often used and weaponized when making points about imperialism, or China, but never in conversation about the country itself. The lessons we can learn from them and the need to bring attention to their plight are seen as less important, placed lower on the hierarchy of oppression. This lack of caring, or lack of caring enough, reproduces the same white supremacist logic that cast them into their exploitive plights in the first place.

As leftist academics and organizers, we have failed our African siblings.

As much as we want to believe the anti-imperialist, globalist politic is the transgressive move, we must begin to understand that fully transgressive and powerful global politics cannot simply follow trends regarding which countries and peoples are most popular to care about. We know this formula will always exclude the African struggle. To place our actions where our rhetoric is, we must move forward in such a way that makes our studies of history, theory and current events inclusive of the unavoidable important work of African revolutionaries, and the current plights of African countries and people living on the continent.

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Categories: News

Voices of Resistance: Centering the Needs of Black Women in Mississippi

Truth Out - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:00
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As a child growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, Cassandra Welchlin witnessed the struggles her mother endured working as a maid. She also learned the importance of serving those in need from her foster grandmother, who instilled in her the importance of taking care of the community's elderly and disadvantaged. Welchlin took those lessons with her to Jackson State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in social work in 1997, and to Brandeis University, where she received a graduate degree in sustainable international development in 2005.

Now a licensed social worker, Welchlin works for the Mississippi Low Income Childcare Initiative (MLICCI), which champions affordable child care for low-income working parents. In 2014 she cofounded the Mississippi Women's Economic Security Initiative as a project of the MLICCI to promote policies that improve the economic well-being of women and their families. This past legislative session, the groups played a major role in pushing the state legislature to pass a law making it easier for domestic violence victims to get a divorce. 

We recently spoke with Welchlin by phone about her work for our ongoing "Voices of Resistance" series, which aims to draw insight and inspiration from the South's deep history of struggle for social change and to learn from a new generation of Southern leaders working in today's volatile political climate. Her responses have been lightly edited for clarity. If you have ideas for other Southern change makers to feature in the series, please contact Rebekah Barber at rebekah@southernstudies.org.

Rebekah Barber: Tell me about yourself and how you became engaged in advocacy work.

Cassandra Welchlin: I want to start off by saying I'm my mother's story and my mother is my story. It was through her work that I learned about justice, and it was through my grandmother that I learned about service. And it was those two things that propelled me into this work of what I call my destiny.

My mother and her five siblings were raised in foster care. Her mother contracted tuberculosis in Mississippi, which at the time wasn't treating Black folks for that disease in a quality kind of way. Their father was working on the railroad and was away from home. Their mother's sister was caring for them but was very abusive to them. Their father found out about it and said, "I gotta get my kids to a safe place."

I'm not sure how it all happened; I believe there is a God that really structures and moves people to places where they need to be. Somehow my mother's father got in contact with this incredible woman, Gwendolyn Loper, who was the first Black social worker in the state of Mississippi. And their grandmother had a meeting with this social worker and said, "They need some care and I will only give them to you if you will guarantee they can all stay together."

[Loper] somehow found this foster care mother, Eva Thompson, who took in all six of these children, ranging from 3 years old all the way up to 8 years old. And she was already in her late 40s, early 50s, but she took in all six of these kids, and she raised them as her own.

They were still able to see their dad and their mother on occasion, but their mother ended up going to New York to get better treatment, and she was murdered. And so they never reunited with their mother. They stayed in that foster care home, and Eva Thompson became their mother. She never adopted them, but they stayed with her and she stayed with them up until her death when she was 84 years old.

And so she raised not only them but she also raised us as her grandkids, and I'm the first grandchild. And as a result of that, I learned from her -- I was around her all the time. Eva Thompson, who I know as my grandmother, was like the caretaker of the community. There were elders in the neighborhood who didn't have families, so she would cook food for all of us and for them as well. And it was my job to take the food to the elders who didn't have families. That's when I began to learn what service was in a very real way.

Every day she would fix a pot of cornbread with a meal, and it was my job to take it to the senior citizens in the neighborhood. And I was just 9 years old. And that really began to teach me that life was bigger than me, and it began to really teach me compassion. I had a lot of empathy for families and people who had less than what I had. And I had less than many, but I had a whole lot of love around.

And my mother and her siblings, up until their old age, they lived together. They put their resources together. They raised each other's children, and so we all lived together.

My mother and her siblings were all low-wage workers. And so as a young child I would go with my mother to her work. She was a maid at one of the state agencies. I didn't know why I would go to work with my mother -- I just thought that was the normal thing to do. But what I realize is that my mom didn't have enough money to pay for child care, so she had to take me with her. She would hide me in the maid closet with her co-worker while she would go out and perform her duties. And when she couldn't take me to work with her, I would go to work with my aunt, who was a maid at one of the local hotels here. My mom was only making $2.15 [an hour] and was on public assistance and just didn't have enough money to take me to child care.

I vividly remember seeing her struggle because she was a low-wage worker who just didn't have enough money to send me to child care. She had to do what she needed to do to make sure I was safe.

And so these things really propelled me and compelled me to want to make life better for other women who have children. These things propelled me to fight for these women to have higher wages so they don't have to choose between the family and children they love and the necessity of having a job. And from my grandmother I learned the importance of having compassion for people who need extra help. I decided that I wanted to be able to change things so no other mom would have to go through what my mother went through.

What are you engaged in right now to make the lives of women and children better?

I went into the field of social work -- I'm a licensed social worker. I started doing direct service work helping families with children with serious emotional disorders and realized that there were policies in place that were continually dragging my families through a system that wasn't working for them. I began to understand how policies were really impacting them and yielding them powerless to change anything. I began to want to work at the macro level of policy systems to change that, but I didn't want to leave the people that I wanted to change the system for -- and I didn't want to do it for them. So I employed community organizing as a way to still be a part of their lives and to do education with them, and to help them actualize their own vision, and to bring them to the policymaking table so that they would be able to hold their elected officials accountable and be a part of the implementation of the policies.

For the last six years I have been working with the Mississippi Low Income Childcare Initiative, and I cofounded the Mississippi Women's Economic Security Initiative because we realized that women needed a policy agenda that was responsive to their needs. We began to have these town hall meetings all across the state to hear from women about what they need to be economically secure. We heard these incredible stories of resilience and power. We also met with young women on college campuses to hear about what was important to them.

For us, it was about really doing this at the intersections of race and gender. Because you can't do work in the South without having a race analysis -- you just can't. But oftentimes you can do this work without having a gender analysis. It was important that we center women, and particularly Black women. Because, if we can be very honest, [those] who are living in poverty in the state of Mississippi are women and girls, and the majority of those are Black women, and women who are single.

Part of what I do is build alliances with these women so that I can understand what their issues are and help educate them about how the process works. How does a bill become a law? What are the regulations around some of these policies? What are some of the things that we can begin to change? Because once the policies change, they have to hold these agencies and elected officials accountable to implement them. So we don't want to just go make the policies if they're not informed about how to maintain or strengthen them.

I also build relationships, allyships, with legislators and policymakers so that they can take on these agendas. I've spoken before the legislative body, several committees of the Democratic Caucus and the Black Caucus. I have also spoken to our conservative policymakers on this issue. As a result of that, many of these legislators have coauthored legislation that is responsive to the women's policy agenda. This past session I was able to build a bipartisan coalition on pay equity. That was really amazing, and it brought a lot of people to the table. Now we have mayors at the table, we have local journalists at the table who have taken this issue on and have done some intensive research that we have been able to use as an advocacy tool.

We're hoping this next legislative session to get an equal pay bill for the state of Mississippi, because Mississippi and Alabama are the only two states that do not have an equal pay law on the books.

In a state like Mississippi with such a deep history of racism and sexism, what are some of the challenges that you have faced and how have you overcome them?

Mississippi definitely has a very racist history but also a sexist history -- a history where there has been a lot of racial violence but also sexual violence against women, particularly women of color. And religion, which is just so important to the culture here, has been used to justify the attitude that folks in power feel towards women, people of color, and poor people. They have used religion to justify so many of these injustices.

That's why it's so important that we are very intentional about putting forth this campaign. We needed to be able to begin to have conversations around these attitudes toward women and the culture that we live in that has justified so much of this racialized and sexualized violence. We have been very intentional about speaking truth to power around those things. Like I said, you have to talk about race in the South -- there's just no way around it. So we are very intentional about talking about race as well as gender.

For instance, this past legislative session we worked with the domestic violence coalition to push for a divorce law that would grant women a divorce based on the grounds of domestic violence. The chairman of the committee did not want to bring the bill out of committee to be voted on. His ideology was that he did not want to break up families. We know that this mentality comes from this religious background that teaches families should stay together no matter what -- even if you're getting the crap beat out of you and even if you die, you stay in that home. That comes from religion. When the legislation passed, it was the first major change to the state's divorce law in over 40 years.

One of the things we have been able to do is lift up those kind of issues and those attitudes and begin to pinpoint where that comes from. We interrogate this mentality and speak truth to power -- that this mentality is not OK. Even God doesn't want you to stay in a place where you’re going to be abused and harmed.

We activated our network with the domestic violence coalition and got our women to start making calls and posting things on social media to say, "This is unacceptable, women were not made to be abused." We were able to use the network that we have built to respond to that kind of foolishness and dangerous ideology.

Given that we are living in this conservative environment, we have learned a lot about where we can partner. We have been able to use what conservatives say is important to them to develop strategies to move our agenda. We were able to find commonalities even though we are on different sides of the political spectrum. We could all agree that we were getting robbed on our day jobs. So we built a bipartisan coalition because we were all being affected one way or the other.

In Mississippi, everything is very relational. So I'm very intentional about building relationships. You have to build relationships because that's another way we can find commonality. Those Republican conservative men also have a wife, a mother. So there are places we can all agree on. Relationships are key. I tell people, "If you're going to come to the South, you better be prepared to sit on the front porch and drink some sweet tea with your neighbor."

In this work, what gives you hope?

What gives me hope is knowing that, historically, I have seen my forefathers and my foremothers in the social justice arena who have bent the arc of justice and have won some incredible things such as the Voting Rights Act. Black women have always been at the forefront of that.

I have seen the fruits of Fannie Lou Hamer. I have seen the fruits of Dr. L.C. Dorsey. I have seen the fruits of Hollis Watkins. So I know it's possible to bend the arc of justice because I’ve seen it. I know that it's long-term, not short-term, work. And if you don't have hope, you can’t move anything.

Another thing that gives me hope is that I'm raising three little children, and I want to make the world better for them. They are children of faith and they have hope, so I live in that.

Categories: News

The Hopeful Work of Turning Appalachia's Mountaintop Coal Mines Into Farms

Truth Out - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:00
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On a surface-mine-turned-farm in Mingo County, West Virginia, former coal miner Wilburn Jude plunks down three objects on the bed of his work truck: a piece of coal, a sponge, and a peach. He's been tasked with bringing in items that represent his life's past, present, and future. "This is my heritage right here," he says, picking up the coal. Since the time of his Irish immigrant great-grandfathers, all the males in his family have been miners.

"Right now I'm a sponge," he says, pointing to the next object, "learning up here on this job, in school, everywhere, and doing the best I can to change everything around me."

Then he holds up the peach. "And then my future. I'm going to be a piece of fruit. I'm going to be able to put out good things to help other people."

Jude works for Refresh Appalachia, a social enterprise that partners with Reclaim Appalachia to convert post-mine lands into productive and profitable agriculture and forestry enterprises that could be scaled up to put significant numbers of people in layoff-riddled Appalachia back to work. When Refresh Appalachia launched in 2015, West Virginia had the lowest workforce participation rate in the nation.

When he's not doing paid farm work on this reclaimed mine site, Jude is attending community college and receiving life skills training from Refresh. "I'm living the dream. The ground's a little bit harder than what I anticipated," he says of the rocky soil beneath his feet, "but we'll figure it out." 

On this wide, flat expanse of former mountaintop, the August sun is scorching even through the clouds. In the distance, heavy equipment grinds away on a still-active surface mine site -- the type of site where some of the Refresh crew members used to work, blowing up what they're now trying to put back together.

Crew leaders drive out to an undulating ridge where we can see a 5-acre spread of autumn olive -- a tough invasive shrub once heavily seeded on former mine sites as part of coal companies' reclamation plans. It's summer 2016, and the crew for this particular Reclaim Appalachia site is awaiting the arrival next week of a forestry mulcher that will remove and chew up the shrubs into wood chips. By the next spring, the clearing will have been replanted by this Refresh crew with over 2,000 berry, pawpaw, and hazelnut seedlings. During my visit, everyone's clearly excited for the mulcher to arrive.

"It's almost like a continuous miner head," explains Nathan Hall, "but instead of mining coal, it's mulching autumn olives." Hall is from Eastern Kentucky and worked for a short time as a miner before attending the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies; now he heads up Reclaim Appalachia, which focuses on repurposing mine land.

A few small agriculture projects are on other former surface mines in the area, but Refresh and Reclaim are the only outfits attempting anything of this scale while also operating a job-training project. One crew member, former miner Chris Farley, says he's stoked to be a part of "the first bunch" to attempt to farm these rugged lands.

"It's a long-term science project," says Ben Gilmer, Refresh's president.

Southern West Virginia nonprofit Coalfield Development runs Refresh, Reclaim, and a family of three other social enterprises. In an environment where finding secure employment is hard, Coalfield offers low-income residents a two- to two-and-a-half-year contract to undergo training in sustainable construction, solar technology, and artisan-based entrepreneurship. Trainees also earn stipends to work on their associate's degrees and receive life skills mentorship before Coalfield assists them in finding full-time work.

Since 2012, Coalfield Development has created more than 40 on-the-job training positions and grown financial wealth for low-income people by over $3.1 million (calculated in wages, benefits, and savings). At current levels of participation, they project hiring 320 crew members and graduating 215 over the next nine years.

Ultimately, they hope that their model will spread to other parts of Appalachia, creating quality jobs that enable hardworking people to stay and make a living in this economically depressed region, where one in four children live in poverty.

They want to help people such as James Russell, a former coal truck driver who now serves as the site's crew chief. He gathers me up in a donated pickup truck for the full farm tour, where I meet goats, pigs, and chickens with a dual purpose: to provide food and land management. Their rooting and scratching removes invasive plants and their waste helps build the soil back. Eventually the hope is to create a closed loop between the animals and plants, where one nourishes the other, cutting down on feed and fertilizer costs.

This year during peak season, Refresh expects to sell 2,800 eggs per week to restaurants and produce 1,500 meat birds across all sites. This past spring, the first piglets and kids were born, and crew members harvested honey for the first time. In addition to fruits and nuts, they're also experimenting with hops, lavender, and greenhouse-grown vegetables.

Besides growing food themselves, Refresh wants to help other startup farmers access markets and technical assistance. This year the organization will offer a mobile poultry-processing trailer to local producers, for example, and then help sell the chickens through their burgeoning food hub. Refresh recently hired Savanna Lyons, a leader in West Virginia's sustainable agriculture movement, to manage the hub. The organization wants to provide people with the whole package -- step-by-step guides, management documents, and workshops.

They are also getting creative about markets targeting low-income people, thinking about not only where they can sell their fresh product, but also how they can make it accessible to the communities that need it. They are piloting a community supported agriculture program, for example, with a sliding scale that also accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, a rare and exceptional governmental resource for economic diversification in the coalfields, owns the land and leases it to Refresh for free. The authority's director, Leasha Johnson, says that though many people in the region have already been forced to move away to look for work, "there are a lot of people who are staying and who believe that we can survive this transition." That makes projects like Refresh worth the investment, she says. A former land manager for the coal industry, Johnson is one of the only economic development leaders here who will utter once-taboo terms such as "post-coal economy."

"It's an uphill battle," she adds, "from both an acceptance perspective as well as an economic and capital investment perspective."

This is not easy work. The groves of autumn olives sometimes seem impenetrable, and there are other aggressive invaders, like multiflora rose and tall fescue. The soil is compacted, composed of blasted rock, and lacks organic matter. Refresh doesn't know how long it will take to bring it back to life. "The soil scientists say, I don't know, you guys are charting new territory here," Gilmer says. Virginia's Division of Mined Land Reclamation estimates that it costs about $2,400 per acre to re-establish a foot of topsoil on previously mined ground. These sites also don't hold water very well -- they were engineered to drain into valley fills, the terraced slopes where rubble from mountaintop removal is dumped.

But they are not barren moonscapes. Appalachia is a temperate region with heavy rainfall. "[These sites] will definitely grow things," says Carl Zipper, a professor of crop and soil sciences at Virginia Tech specializing in restoration of mine lands. "They just need some care and management appropriate to their characteristics."

And in this mountainous region, where it's hard to find large tracts of flat pasture and croplands, figuring out how to use the more than 2 million acres of previously mined land that's not currently producing anything could unlock a whole new industry. "If [the Refresh project is] able to make a go of it and provide a model for others," Zipper says, "I think that's great."

So far, soil testing hasn't revealed any worrisome contaminants. While the water that runs off such sites can contain concentrations of heavy metals like selenium and manganese, which cause problems for aquatic life in headwater streams, Hall says, the concentration is undetectable on any given square foot of soil material.

Perhaps the biggest unanswered question, though, is whether Refresh's crew members can really make a living through agriculture in the long term. Russell preaches diversification -- shoot for five ventures that produce $10,000 each per year. Jude wants to go the value-added path and combine his wife's love for cooking with his love for growing to open up a farm-fresh restaurant. Farley is hedging -- if coal makes a comeback, he may go back to the mines, but if not, he's sticking with agriculture.

The can-do spirit of this crew works in their favor. And like most people in the region, many of them can draw from their native expertise growing vegetable gardens to feed their families. Jude grew up hoeing corn, raising hogs, and growing pumpkins on his family's 4-acre farm. And during a recent workshop on marketing produce, crew member Lola Cline piped up that her father ran a produce wholesale business for 35 years.

Whatever the future holds, for now these workers are clearly laboring over something they love in an environment that encourages learning, mutual support, and giving back to their community -- all qualities that build resilience over the long haul. And in an economically struggling region where hope runs in high demand, this is no small thing.

Categories: News

"Robin Hood in Reverse": Sanders Blasts GOP Budget Ahead of Key Senate Vote

Truth Out - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:00

 Blink O'fanaye)Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in Silver Spring, Maryland, on July 13, 2017. (Photo: Blink O'fanaye)

With the GOP's safety net-shredding budget blueprint headed for a crucial vote in the Senate this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) blasted his Republican colleagues' proposals in a Guardian op-ed Monday as little more than a "gift to billionaires" made possible by doing "incalculable harm to tens of millions of working families, our kids, the sick, the elderly, and the poor."

"The Republican budget, which will likely be debated on the floor of the Senate this week, is the Robin Hood principle in reverse," Sanders writes. "It takes from those in need and gives to those who are already living in incredible opulence."

As Common Dreams has reported, despite the GOP's and the Trump administration's best efforts to portray their budget and tax plan as pro-middle class, non-partisan analyses have laid bare the fact that their proposals amount to an enormous boon to the wealthiest Americans.

The independent Tax Policy Center found last month that by 2027, 80 percent of the Trump-GOP tax cuts will be enjoyed by the top one percent.

To clear up budget space for this reward to the rich, Republicans are preparing to inflict "massive cuts [to] programs that working class Americans desperately need," Sanders notes.

"This budget cuts Medicaid by more than $1 trillion over 10 years -- which would throw some 15 million Americans off of the health insurance they currently have," Sanders adds. "Further, this budget does what the Republicans have not yet attempted to do in their previous healthcare legislation and that is to make a $473 billion cut to Medicare, despite Trump's campaign promises not to cut these programs."

To the question of why the GOP would so severely slash crucial safety net programs and deliver massive tax cuts to the wealthy -- moves recent polls have found are extremely unpopular among vast majority of the American public -- Sanders responds: "follow the money."

"Today, we have a corrupt campaign finance system that enables multi-billionaires, along with some of the most powerful CEOs in America, to contribute many hundreds of millions of dollars to elect Republican candidates to represent their views," Sanders writes. "As a result, the top one percent has been able to rig the political system to favor them at the expense of virtually everyone else."

Thanks to this system, Sanders argues, most Americans are subjected to devastating austerity while the rich and politically influential -- like the Koch brothers and the Walton family -- continue to get richer, decade after decade.

"At a time when the middle class is shrinking and over 40 million Americans are living in poverty, this budget must be defeated and replaced with a plan that reflects the needs of the working families of our country," Sanders concluded, "not just the wealthy, the powerful and large campaign contributors."

House Republicans approved their own budget blueprint, which largely reflects the priorities of their Senate allies, earlier this month.

If the Senate version -- which allows for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts and over $5 trillion in spending cuts -- is approved later this week, the path will be paved for Republicans to "fast-track" their tax legislation without needing any Democratic support.

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Categories: News

Wages Are Growing, Contrary to What You Read in the Papers

Truth Out - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:00
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There is much to criticize about the US economy. There has been a massive upward redistribution of income over the last four decades. As a result, those at the top have gotten incredibly rich while the middle and bottom have seen almost nothing from the growth over this period.

The recent past has been even worse. Millions of people lost their homes in the collapse of the bubble, pushing the ownership rate to the lowest level in more than fifty years. For African Americans the ownership rate fell to the lowest level on record.

The Great Recession pushed the unemployment rate into the double digits, with the unemployment rate for African Americans exceeding 17 percent at its peak. The recovery has been long and slow. While the unemployment rate has finally fallen back to pre-recession levels, the employment rate for prime age workers (ages 25 to 54) is still 1.5 percentage points below pre-recession peaks and 3 percentage points below the peak reached in 2000. The weakness in the labor market led to a sharp falloff in real wages for those at the middle and bottom of the wage distribution.

But that was the past. In the last couple of years we actually have been seeing some reasonably good economic news. The tightening labor market has narrowed the gap between the unemployment rates for African Americans and Latinos compared with whites. In 2014 the gap between the African American unemployment rate and the white rate was 6 percentage points. For the first nine months of the 2017 it has averaged 3.7 percentage points. For Latinos the gap was 2.2 percentage points in 2014 compared with 1.3 percentages so far this year.

Tighter labor markets have also meant that wages are actually rising for those at the middle and bottom of the wage ladder. There had been essentially no change in average weekly earnings between 2008 and 2014 for the median worker. (Weekly earnings can rise both because of higher hourly wages and also more hours of work.) Wages had just kept even with prices over this six year period. For workers at the 25th percentile cutoff (25 percent of workers earn less), real wages had actually fallen by 3 percent over this period.

However things have turned around and are now moving in the right direction. Weekly earnings, adjusted for inflation, of the median worker have risen by roughly 5 percent since 2014. They have gone up about by almost 8 percent for workers at the 25th percentile of the wage distribution.

For African Americans weekly earnings for the median worker were still at their 2008 level as late as 2015. Earnings for workers at the 25th percentile were down by almost 4 percent. In the last two years earnings for median worker have risen by almost 5 percent, while they have risen by close to 9 percent for African Americans at the 25th percentile of the wage distribution. In the last three years, weekly earnings for the median Latino worker have risen by more than 10 percent.

This period of two or three good years does not come close to making up for the suffering of the Great Recession, much less the prior three decades of stagnate wages, but it is important to recognize that things are finally moving in the right direction. Workers are getting their share of the gains from growth and workers at the bottom are actually gaining ground at the expense of those at the top.

Getting this recent history right is important for two reasons. First, it means that the economy can deliver the goods for the bulk of the working population, if the unemployment gets low enough and the labor market tight enough. All the economy's problems will not be fixed by a low unemployment rate, but it does make a huge difference, especially for those at the middle and bottom of the income distribution.

The other reason we need to get this history right is that the progress of the last two years is threatened by the actions of the Federal Reserve Board in raising interest rates. The Federal Reserve Board has raised interest rates five times in the last two years. Its goal has been to slow the economy and reduce the pace of job creation. This limits workers' bargaining power and the risk of higher wages setting off an inflationary spiral.

While these rate hikes were arguably unnecessary, they were relatively modest given that the Fed was starting from a position of a zero interest rate. This could change if the Fed gets a new chair. The current chair, Janet Yellen, was the architect of this sequence of modest rate hikes. One person who is widely mentioned as a possible replacement is Kevin Warsh. Warsh is a former member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. In that position he repeatedly expressed concerns about inflation even as the economy was collapsing and the inflation rate was near zero.

If Yellen is not reappointed and Warsh is picked in his place, his imaginary fears of inflation may lead him to push the Fed to raise interest rates much further. If this happens, the period in which most workers are in a position to share in the gains from growth may quickly come to an end.  

Categories: News

Tax Cuts for the Rich, Paid for With Your Health Care

Truth Out - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:00

When Republican leaders tried to repeal health care in the spring and summer, many Americans raised the alarm and made a ruckus. We asked hard questions, looked at the independent analyses, held town halls, told our health care stories, and took to the streets.

Because of that overwhelming opposition, plans to slash health care to pay for corporate tax breaks failed. Republican leaders haven't given up. In fact, they've already begun voting on a scheme to slash taxes for corporations and multi-millionaires -- paid for by cuts to health care.

Now the plan to raid our health care is buried in the GOP tax scheme and budget process. Here's how they're putting it into place.

On October 5, the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution that cuts $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and other health programs, capping and starving Medicaid.

On top of that, the budget also slices almost $500 billion from Medicare -- and proposes turning it into a privatized voucher program and raising the eligibility age to 67.

The Senate budget proposal is just as bad. It would cut Medicaid, Medicare, and the financial assistance people get to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

For the better part of 30 years, I've been organizing people and communities to win quality, affordable health care for all. These cuts will hurt all of us, especially people who need health care the most: seniors, people with disabilities, children.

The payoff? Our elected representatives get to dole out tax breaks to their big-money donors and corporate friends.

Don't expect House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the others behind this scheme to be honest about it. They're saying their tax cut plan for corporations and multi-millionaires will help ordinary people.

Their idea of who ordinary people are is pretty strange.

The richest 1 percent of Americans will reap 80 percent of the tax cuts, the non-partisan Tax Policy center calculates, while taxes for many moderate and low-income people would go up. The richest 5 percent of Americans will gain income from these tax cuts -- but the rest of us will lose income once those cuts are paid for.

The rich get richer and the rest of us lose income, health care, and other essential services like housing, food, and education. (And don't think they won't come for Social Security next.)

We'll wind up with what Republican leaders wanted from health care repeal: tens of millions of people thrown off their health care to clear the way for more than $1 trillion in tax breaks for the mega-rich.

All this comes at a time of soaring corporate profits -- with prescription drug corporations continuing to rake in exorbitant profits by price-gouging patients on lifesaving medications.

Instead of requiring Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug corporations -- which would mean huge savings for the public -- Republican leaders in Congress want us to pay for corporate tax cuts with our health care.

What part of "no" didn't they understand?

Categories: News

Guantánamo's Living Legacy in the Trump Era

Truth Out - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:00
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Eight years ago, when I wrote a book on the first days of Guantanamo, The Least Worst Place: Guantánamo's First 100 Days, I assumed that Gitmo would prove a grim anomaly in our history.  Today, it seems as if that "detention facility" will have a far longer life than I ever imagined and that it, and everything it represents, will become a true, if grim, legacy of twenty-first-century America.

It appears that we just can't escape the perpetual pendulum of the never-ending war on terror as it invariably swings away from the rule of law and the protections of the Constitution.  Last month, worries that had initially surfaced during the presidential campaign of 2016 over Donald Trump's statements about restoring torture and expanding Guantanamo's population took on a new urgency.  In mid-September, the administration acknowledgedthat it had captured an American in Syria.  Though no facts about the detained individual have been revealed, including his name or any allegations against him, the Pentagon did confirm that he has been classified as an "enemy combatant," a vague and legally imprecise category. It was, however, one of the first building blocks that officials of George W. Bush's administration used to establish the notoriously lawless policies of that era, including Guantanamo, the CIA's "black sites," and of course "enhanced interrogation techniques." 

Placing terrorism suspects apprehended while fighting abroad in American custody is hardly unprecedented. The US government has periodically captured citizen and non-citizen members of ISIS, and fighters from the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabaab, as well as from al-Qaeda-linked groups.  To those who have followed such matters, however, the Trump administration's quick embrace of the term "enemy combatant" for the latest captive is an obvious red flag and so has elicited a chorus of concern from national security attorneys and experts, myself included. Our collective disquiet stems from grim memories of the extralegal terrorism policies the Bush administration institutionalized, especially the way the term "enemy combatant" helped free its officials and the presidency from many restraints, and from fears that those abandoned policies might have a second life in the Trump era.

Guantanamo's Detainees

What, then, is an enemy combatant? After all, memories fade and the government hasn't formally classified anyone in custody by that rubric since 2009. So here's a brief reminder. The term first made its appearance in the early months after 9/11.  At that time, then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo -- who gained infamy for redefining acts of torture as legal "techniques" in the interrogation of prisoners -- and others used "enemy combatant" to refer to those captured in what was then being called the Global War on Terror. Their fates, Yoo argued, lay outside the purview of either Congress or the courts. The president, and only the president, he claimed, had the power to decide what would happen to them.

"As the president possess[es] the Commander-in-Chief and Executive powers alone," Yoo wrote at the time, "Congress cannot constitutionally restrict or regulate the president's decision to commence hostilities or to direct the military, once engaged. This would include not just battlefield tactics, but also the disposition of captured enemy combatants."

The category, as used then, was meant to be sui generis and to bear no relation to "unlawful" or "lawful" enemy combatants, both granted legal protections under international law. Above all, the Bush version of enemy-combatant status was meant to exempt Washington's captives from any of the protections that would normally have been granted to prisoners of war.

In practice, this opened the way for that era's offshore system of (in)justice at both the CIA's black sites and the prison camp at Guantanamo, which was set up in Cuba in order to evade the reach of either Congress or the federal court system.  The captives President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sent there beginning in January 2002 fell into that category.  In keeping with the mood of the moment in Washington, the US military personnel who received them were carefully cautioned never to refer to them as "prisoners," lest they then qualify for the legal protections guaranteed to prisoners of war. Within weeks, the population had grown to several hundred men, all labeled "alien enemy combatants," all deemed by Yoo and his superiors to lie outside the laws of war as well as those of the United States, and even outside military regulations.

American citizens were excluded from detention there. Some were nonetheless labeled enemy combatants. One -- Jose Padilla -- was arrested in the United States.  Another -- Yaser Hamdi -- was initially brought to Gitmo after being captured in Afghanistan, only to be flown in the middle of the night to the United States as administration officials hoped to escape public attention for their mistake.

Padilla had been born and raised in the United States; Hamdi had grown up in Saudi Arabia. To avoid the federal detention system, both would be held in a naval brig in South Carolina, deprived of access to lawyers, and detained without charge.  For years, their lawyers tried to convince federal judges that keeping them in such circumstances was unconstitutional. Eventually, the Supreme Court weighed in, upholding Yoo's position on their classification as enemy combatants, but allowing them lawyers who could challenge the grounds for and conditions of their detention.

Although the government defended the use of enemy combatant status for years, both Padilla and Hamdi were eventually -- after almost three years in Hamdi's case, three and a half for Padilla -- turned over to federal law enforcement. Never charged with a crime, Hamdi would be returned to Saudi Arabia, where he promptly renounced his US citizenship, as the terms of his release required. Padilla was eventually charged in federal court and ultimately sentenced to 21 years in prison.

By the time Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, both cases had been resolved, but that of another enemy combatant held in the United States, though not a citizen, was still pending. Ali Saleh al-Marri, a Qatari and a graduate student at Bradley University in Illinois, was taken from civilian custody and detained without charges for six years at the same naval base that had held Padilla and Hamdi. Within weeks of Obama's inauguration, however, he would be released into federal civilian custody and charged. Meanwhile, in June 2009, for the first and only time, the Department of Justice suddenly transferred a Guantanamo prisoner, Ahmed Ghailani, to federal custody.  A year later, he was tried and convicted in federal court for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The message seemed hopeful, and was followed by other potentially restorative gestures. On the day Obama entered the White House, for instance, he signed an executive order to close Guantanamo within the year. In March, he abandoned the use of the term enemy combatant for the detainees there.  Aiming to release or try all who remained in that prison camp, he appointed a task force to come up with viable options for doing so.

In other words, as his presidency began, Obama seemed poised to restore rights guaranteed under the Constitution to all prisoners, including those in Guantanamo, when it came to detention and trial.  The pendulum seemed potentially set to swing back toward the rule of law. In the years to come, there would, nonetheless, be many disappointments when it came to the rule of law, including the failure to close Guantanamo itself.  There was, as well, the Obama administration's 2011 reversal of its earlier decision to take the alleged 9/11 co-conspirators -- including the "mastermind" of those attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- into federal court rather than try them via a Gitmo military commission.

In reality, that administration would even end up preserving an aspect of the enemy-combatant apparatus. In 2011, before bringing Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali defendant, and in 2014 before bringing Abu Khattala, the alleged mastermind in the deaths of an American ambassador and others in Benghazi, Libya, to the United States and putting them in federal custody, and i 2016 before bringing two Americans found fighting in Syria court here, the Obama administration would carve out a period for military detention and interrogation prior to federal custody and prosecution.

In each case, the individuals were held in military custody and first interrogated there.  Warsame, for instance, was kept aboard a US Navy vessel for two months of questioning before being charged with, among other things, providing material support to the Somali militant group al-Shabaab and to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. (In December 2011, he would plead guilty in a federal court in New York City.) Khattala was held for 13 days. Once US intelligence agents had the information they felt they needed, they turned the detainees over to those who would help prosecute them -- to the "clean team."

Until the recent Trump administration designation, however, no one in the ensuing years would be newly labeled an enemy combatant and sent to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility or held without charge on US soil. In fact, a number of individuals who, in the Bush years, would undoubtedly have become detainees there landed in federal court instead, including bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, and Abu Hamza al-Masri, an al-Qaeda operative accused of trying to build a terrorist cell in the United States.

As a result, this fall there are a surprising number of terrorism trials taking place, including that of the alleged Benghazi mastermind, of the two Americans who were fighting alongside ISIS in Syria, and of US citizen Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh, who was just found guilty in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, of conspiring to aid al-Qaeda and bomb a US military base in Afghanistan. 

In these years, the belief that terrorism suspects belong within the federal criminal justice system was reestablished. In addition, Obama appointed two consecutive special envoys to take charge of transferring detainees cleared for release from Guantanamo, which Congress refused to close.  As a result, a total of 197 were released during the Obama years, leaving only 41 in indefinite detention as Trump came into office.

Meanwhile, during the tenures of Attorneys General General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the federal courts would handle an increasingly wide array of terrorism cases, ranging from the Boston Marathon attack to the attempts of a woman in Colorado to travel abroad to marry an ISIS member and serve the caliphate. Taken together, these developments seemed to signify an end to the era of indefinite detention and of detention without charge. Or so we thought.

Back to the Future

Now, it seems, the term "enemy combatant" is back and who knows what's about to come back with it? Was the Trump administration's very use of that label meant to get our attention, to signal the potential Guantanamo-ish future to come, to quash any cautious hopes that the modest gains realized during the Obama years might actually last? Remember that, during the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump swore that he would add some "bad dudes" to Guantanamo and insisted that even American citizens could end up in that persistent symbol of American injustice.

In the meantime, in August it was revealed that the Pentagon was already requesting from Congress $500 million dollars to build new barracks for troops, a hospital, and a tent city for migrants at Gitmo.  In other words, the United States now stands at a worrisome and yet familiar crossroads in its never-ending war on terror and the signs point to a possible revival of some of the worst policies of the national security state.

In reality, so many years later, enemy combatant status should be a nonstarter, a red flag of the first order, as should indefinite detention. In the past, such policies produced nothing but a costly quagmire, leaving George Bush to personally release more than 500 detainees, Barack Obama nearly 200, and the government to eventually take citizens declared to be enemy combatants out of military custody and transfer them to federal court. Meanwhile, the hapless military commissions tied directly to Gitmo that were to replace the federal court system have yet to even begin the trials of the alleged co-conspirators of 9/11, while such courts have already tried more than 500 terrorism defendants.

Is this really what the Trump years have in store for us?  A return to a policy that never worked, that brought shame to this country, cost a fortune in the bargain (at the moment, nearly $11 million annually per Gitmo detainee), and undermined faith in the federal court system, even though those courts have proved so much more capable than the military commissions of dealing with terrorism cases?

For those of us who thought this country might have learned its lesson, the use of the term "enemy combatant" for new detainees and for an American citizen is more than a provocative gesture, it's the latest attack on the rule of law. It represents a renewed attempt to dismantle yet another piece of the fabric of American democracy and to throw into doubt a founding faith in the importance of courts and the judicial system.  It's another reminder that the rise of the national security state continues to take place outside the bounds of what was once thought of as fundamental to the republic -- namely, institutions of justice.  Suitably, then, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a habeas petition on October 5th challenging the detention of the newest enemy combatant, asserting, among other things, "John Doe's" right to an attorney and calling for him to be transferred into civil custody and charged or released.  

Though the future is so often a mystery, if the Trump administration goes down this same path again, it should be obvious from the last decade and a half just where it will lead: toward a renewed policy of legal exceptionalism in which the American scales of justice will once again be decisively tipped toward injustice. 

Categories: News

Oil rig explodes in Louisiana lake injuring multiple people, police say

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 03:35

Oil rig explodes in Louisiana lake injuring multiple people, police say | 15 Oct 2017 | An oil rig exploded Sunday night in Lake Pontchartrain in St. Charles Parish, a Louisiana police department said. Kenner Police Department spokesman Sgt. Brian McGregor said Sunday evening that rescue boats are being sent from the Kenner Boat Launch, and that officials with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office are assisting, The Times-Picayune reported. There were "a lot of injuries," many of them serious, with at least six confirmed and more expected, McGregor said.

Categories: News

Book extract: Deep Ecology and Anarchism

Anarchist News - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 21:19

From Freedom News

Marking the run-up to the launch of deep ecology and anarchism at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair on October 28th, below is the latter part of an essay by Robert Hart, a founding mover of the forest gardening and permaculture movements.

The main cause of the ecological crisis is not the “population explosion,” as many Northern analysts claim, but gross under-use of the world’s land resources.

Apart from totally unproductive deserts, which cover one-third of the Earth’s land surface, there are vast areas of grassland, much of very poor quality, which is used for grazing cattle and sheep. The average food production of such areas is about half a hundredweight per acre per year. In the Highlands of Scotland it is reckoned that it takes five acres of grassland and moorland to support one sheep. Much of the rest of the world’s agricultural land is used for the monocropping of cereals, with an average production of two to four tons per acre per year. But under agroforestry systems annual production exceeding a hundred tons per acre per year is possible. Moreover, under such systems, a wide diversity of food and other useful plants is produced, supplying well balanced diets, as well as fuel, building materials and other necessities.

The food plants produced by an agroforestry system supply the most important factors in human nutrition, in which most diets, in the poor and rich worlds alike, are gravely deficient. These are fruit, whose natural sugars feed the brain and energise the body, and green plants, whose chlorophyll — the basic constituent of all physical life — has a special affinity for the blood. A diet designed for optimum positive health should comprise seventy percent of fruit and green vegetables, preferably consumed fresh and raw.

A disaster afflicting today’s world, which is at least as serious as any actual or potential environmental disaster, is the colossal toll of disease caused by bad or inadequate food. The malnutrition of poverty in the Third World is no more drastic in its effects than the malnutrition of affluence in the rich sector — the malnutrition caused by excess of fatty, clogging, over-flavoured and chemically processed foods causes the “diseases of civilisation” which are no less lethal than the diseases caused by destitution and dirt.

Before there can be an Environmental Revolution there must be a Humanistic Revolution. The reason why ever-growing stretches of the Earth’s surface are hells for human beings, whether they are squalid shanty-towns, polluted and violent inner-city ghettos, squatters” camps, concentration camps or treeless wildernesses, is that the powers who run the world regard people as things, as objects of exploitation or domination. A word coined by Karl Marx in his critique of the capitalist system was verdinglichung — “thing-making,” though Communist commissars have proved as guilty in this respect as capitalist entrepreneurs. Both groups regard human beings as mere pawns to be used for the furtherance of their personal power and wealth. Similarly, their only interest in a stretch of beautiful countryside is, not how its beauty can be preserved and enhanced, but how most effectively it can be “developed;” whether it can be made to generate more wealth as the site of a building estate, an industrial complex, a factory farm, an airfield, a hydro-electric dam, a nuclear power station, a motorway, or a “theme park.”

The attitude of the powers-that-be towards life in its infinite complexity, whether in the form of a human being or a tropical rainforest, is one of gross over-simplification. The human being is only of interest as “consumer,” “investor,” “labour,” “voter,” “soldier” or “taxpayer.” The forest, with its vast diversity of species, is only of interest as a purveyor of timber, or, burnt to the ground and converted into pasture, as a brief purveyor of hamburgers. The only standard is short-term profit; no regard is paid to longer and wider prospects, to the needs and survival of living beings.

It is among ordinary human beings, not industrial chiefs, bankers, bureaucrats and politicians, that humanistic feelings are found in their greatest intensity. Among our tortured world’s supreme needs is the divine commonsense and compassion of the conscientious mother and housewife. This is a manifestation of the power of Gaia, the grassroots dynamic which must supply much of the motive-force of the Environmental Revolution.

Unlike previous revolutions, this must be overwhelmingly non-violent and constructive. It will comprise an ever-increasing profusion of small growing-points, like the new plants that irresistibly spring forth in an area devastated by volcanic eruption.

Already it is possible to detect a multitude of such growing-points in almost every country. A report critical of industrialism was entitled Limits to Growth, but no limits should be placed on the growth of new village communities, family farms, organic market-gardens, conservation groups, Green organisations, and co-operative enterprises of all kinds. Even now, the people involved in these must number many millions. If only their efforts could be integrated and co-ordinated into a worldwide New Life Network, they could give rise to a non-governmental organisation which could speak with real authority in the United Nations.

As the primary impulse for all activity comes from the human psyche, the first essential, if mankind is to survive the colossal challenges of the present and future, must be a Moral Revolution. Mutual aid, rather than money, power, status and self-indulgence, must be accepted as the basic law of life. Modern communication technology has forcibly brought home the fact that it is one world. Disasters involving human suffering are shown on television screens with equal immediacy, whether they occur in distant countries or the next street. No longer can people shrug off responsibility for the tribulations of their distant cousins. In fact those tribulations are generally caused by negative or positive factors in the worldwide system and ethos which govern the way the majority of the world’s citizens live and work — a system and ethos based on blind selfishness and materialism.

Gandhi said, “There is enough in the world to satisfy everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed.” In fact, the technological know-how exists to give every human being adequate food, water, shelter, clothing, energy and opportunity for self-fulfilment. A worldwide campaign of resource development for need could be a “moral equivalent of war,” which would bring deep psychological as well as physical satisfaction to countless millions, not least among those who at present are seeking the soul-destroying “satisfaction” of exploiting, dominating or otherwise hurting their fellow human beings.

Such a campaign, wholly constructive and transcending environmental problems as well as human barriers and rivalries — and involving the planting of trillions of trees — could usher in a period of positive peace and creative activity such as mankind has never known throughout history. The alternatives face each one of us: a series of ever deepening environmental and economic disasters and conflicts or a world of unprecedented beauty, diversity and abundance.

~ Robert Hart

deep ecology and anarchism is launching at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair on October 28th, with a talk by contributing author Brian Morris. It’s available for pre-order with a 10% discount here.

https://freedompress.org.uk/store-2/products/deep-ecology-and-anarchism/

Tags: technologyLondonbook fairgreenecologybooksforest gardenpermaculturecategory: Essays
Categories: News

Verdict Handed Down as Solidarity Actions Grow for Kara Wild

Anarchist News - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 20:01

From It's Going Down

Across the world, actions are happening in solidarity with Kara Wild, an anarchist from the US who was swept up in resistance to French Labor Reform Laws aimed against the young and poor. Along with several others, Kara is accused of taking part in the burning of a police car in the midst of a riot. According to Free Kara Wild:

Kara Wild is an artist, comrade and resilient force of nature, currently being detained in France for her alleged participation in a protest against draconian labor reforms and police repression. She is a trans woman and is currently being held in a men’s jail. She is also a U.S. citizen and has been denied bond because French authorities consider her a flight risk.

On May 18th, thousands of people converged in Paris to defy an ongoing siege of police violence and to oppose a new neoliberal labor reform. During one of these marches a police car was attacked and set on fire. Kara was brutally arrested in connection to this incident more than a full week later, on May 26th, at a separate event near La Place de la Nation. Despite a distinct lack of evidence, she is being accused of smashing a pole through a police car’s windshield moments before it was set on fire. Her charges are, “attempted voluntary manslaughter of a person holding public office, destruction of property, group violence and participating in a masked armed group.”

Kara is among 6 people currently facing charges in connection to this incident. To make matters worse, France’s Prime Minister, Manuel Valls is vowing to execute “unrelenting punishment,” in order to set an example and de-mobilize protests.

Despite attacks by the state, global movements against capitalism, white supremacy, hetero-sexist patriarchy and austerity grow stronger each day, from Paris to Oaxaca. As the flames of resistance multiply this summer, let us make sure not to leave our friends behind! Please help us support Kara Wild by writing to her, donating to her defense fund, and spreading the word about her case.

Freedom to all political prisoners! Freedom to all transwomen prisoners! Freedom to all prisoners!

Several days ago, a judge handed out a verdict of up to seven years for several people that the State accused of being involved in the burning, as a group of over 40 demonstrated outside. Kara, who has already been incarcerated for several years, received another two years added onto her sentence. In the lead-up to the verdict, solidarity actions have taken place across the US and Europe. According to Paris Luttes.Info:

The trial is ongoing for nine people accused of participating in the burning of a police car on May 18th2016 in Paris. Because solidarity attacks continue to occur throughout the French territory around the trial dates, here is an attempt at an exhaustive chronology of direct actions carried out in solidarity with those accused in this case.

All links in this article are to French-language communiques unless stated otherwise. All actions are in France unless a country is indicated. Since most of the texts linked to have not been previously translated, we opted to simply translate a sentence or two from each one to give a sense of the action, in addition to providing the link. All italics are translators notes.

Many of these actions specifically name Kara and Krem, two anarchists still in custody in this case. Krem was based in the Paris area prior to his arrest, while Kara is from the United States. Their verdict is expected on October 11, 2017.

Keep an eye on Free Kara Wild for more info, updates, and how to donate.

Action Roundup From Paris Luttes.Info:

Date Title of communique or details of the action Links and Quotations

11-10-2017

[US] Sheriff tires slashed and yuppie storefront windows smashed.

“Last week, we decided to ring in Kara Wild’s trial in Paris by raining the streets of Chicago with shattered glass and popping a cop tire for each month that she has spent in prison. The windows of yuppie shops on the thoroughly gentrified north side stood tall and vulnerable to our hammers. The tires of sheriff cars, brazenly parked on residential streets, challenged us to immobilize them.”

Communique

08-10-2017

[US] Graffiti painted.

“After being held for the past seventeen months in the largest prison in Europe, without so much as a trial date to give her solace, Kara Wild is now back in grueling prison purgatory waiting for her verdict to be announced on October 11th.”

Communique

27-09-2017

[Paris] Demo in the courthouse during the trial

“The court room emptied while Kara and Krem were handcuffed and taken back to prison. Cries of ‘freedom’ echoed through the halls of the Paris Superior Court”

Communique // Callout

27-09-2017

[Berlin] Broken windows at the Bundesdruckerei building (federal printers in charge of money, passports, etc) and of the media firm DuMont, in particular in solidarity with Kara and Krem

The communique situates the attacks in the context of the recent G20 summit in Hamburg and particularly focuses on the role of the media in legitimizing the state while attacking its opponents.

Communique (in German)

25-09-2017

[Besancon] A little stroll to get the week off to a good start – solidarity tags

“Monday night we got together for a rowdy little stroll through the downtown. We used the occasion to make clear our disgust for property and its defenders by repainting the facades of several real estate agencies.”

Communique

23-09-2017

[Clermont-Ferrand] A few flames – municipal truck burned

“I just needed to let the darkness out of me a bit and have it turn against this world.”

Communique

22-09-2017

[Bagnolet-Montreuil] Stroll through Bagnolet and Montreuil (leafleting, postering, tags, and traffic slowdown)

22-09-2017

[Berlin] Solidarity rally “Until all police cars burn, until everyone is free”

“Solidarity to our friends in France. We are following the ongoing trials on the burning copcar in Paris with one laughing and one sad eye. It is a relief to hear that atleast some are not joining their game and keep their mouths shut.”

Communique (English and German) // Photo

22-09-2017 [Paris]A few messages for the accused in the pig-mobile case – solidarity banners The banners read: “Freedom for the Quai de Valmy 9”; “Blue burns well” “Solidarity with kara and krem, Freedom for all” “From Paris to flames in Grenoble and Limoges.

Communique

21-09-2017 [Grenoble] Incediary Solidarity – a gendarmerie hangar containing 50 vehicles was burned “Made it into the gendarmerie (military police) compound in Vigny-Mussey. Burned 6 response wagons and 2 logistics trucks. Over 1500 square metres of the garage and warehouse were destroyed […] Our hostility is a spreading flame.”

Communique / tor / English

20-09-2017 [Paris} Rally in front of the courthouse Solidarity rally with those targeted by searches in Bure (a land-defense occupation in Western France against a nucelar waste dump) and those charged with the burning of the police car.

Callout

19-09-2017 5 gendarmerie vehicles burned “In the night of September 18 2017, we, as former gendarmes, collectively decided to burn 3 wagons and two buses from the gendermerie in the Jourdan compound in Limoges.”

Communique

19-09-2017 [Paris] Rally in front of the Superior Court in Paris, called by the Social Front (a left-wing formation of unions and grassroots groups) “A considerable crowd (more than 200 people) has gathered in the hall of lost steps (in this section of the court, the glass floor in the level above shows the milling footsteps of those attending court)! The lawyers are fighting for a larger room so that all supporters can enter. The struggle was victorious since the hearing is adjourned.”

Callout

19-09-2017 [Basel, Switzerland] A little knifework in solidarity with the trial of those charges with burning a police car in Paris This text claims responsibility for slashing the tires of dozens of cars belonging to Bouygues (a technology company that also builds prisons), Adecco (a temp agency), local government, Enedis (electricity company involved in pushing forward a nuclear waste dump in Bure), Siemens (for their work in surveillance), ABB (automatisation), and Impenia, Alpiq and EAGB who are involved in prison construction.

Communique (Translated in French)

In German

19-09-2017 [Toulouse] Quai de Valmy – It’s fair to return fire A banner reading “In the Quai de Valmy case: Fire to the inquisitors” was hung from the historical Convent of the Jacobins, a site strongly linked to the Inquisition.

Communique

19-09-2017 [Les Lilas, 93] 3 autolib are burned(Les Lilas is just outside of Paris proper and autolib is a car share service) “With this simple act, we hope to express our solidarity with Kara and Krem who go to trial today … Because we appreciate clear and coherent postures when facing the justice system.”

Communique

18-09-2017 [Paris] Rally in solidarity with those charged with burning the police car Over a hundred people gathered at Place des Fetes and did huge wheat pastes of slogans like “Police and Justice Defend the Rich” and carried banners “This week’s menu: lawyer purée, paired with roast pig served with screws and onions, and judges caramelized in whipped cream-of-prosecutor.”

Callout and reportback

17-09-2017 [Fleury-Merogis] Wildcat prison visit and fireworks “An hour after night fall, twenty of us took the muddy path that leads towards the enclosure of this concrete monstrosity. Some firecrackers, shouts, and fireworks broke the silence that reign there and a multitude of voices responded from inside the prison”(Fleury-Merogis is home to Europe’s largest prison, the one that holds Kara and Krem).

Communique

14-09-2017 [Paris] Singin in the rain – broken windows and tags against the prison system’s collaborators “Overnight between the 13th and 14th of November, we smashed the windows of the offices of the association ‘Communication Integration Training Learning.’”

Communique

11-09-2017 [Marseille] Fewer ankle bracelets, more fresh air! – Windows smashed at a branch of Correctional Services’ Insertion and Probation section “With all the windows on its two entrances off Negresko and Paulet streets broken, this disgraceful place should feel a bit less carceral than usual.”

Communique

10-09-2017 [Bagnolet] Arson in solidarity with anarchist prisoners – Orange (communications company) utility vehicle burnt “Fire and flames against this world!”

Communique

22-08-2017 [Orbeil (Puy-de-Dome)] The summer is for grilling antenna relays – arson attack against two antenna relays “In the early morning of August 22, we set a fire up there on the hill. In Moida, two relay antennas that provide telephone service from Issoire to Brioude, as well as broadcasting several radio stations, were burned. Short of shutting off all the city lights, we could at least unplug their smartphones. “ The fire spread along the cables to also seriously damage two buildings.

Communique// English

22-08-2017 [Besancon] From each burning cop car blows a wind of freedom – solidarity banners “Freedom will bloom on the corpses of police.”

Communique // English

20-08-2017 [Paris] Burning of a truck belonging to Eiffage, a prison builder, on rue Compans in the 19th district “We’re impatient. We don’t give a shit about the masses. And class… we never liked school. Rather than the Revolution – an illusion – we prefer fiery early mornings.”

Communique

19-08-2017 [Cevennes] Audacious, we wanted to burn the heavens – sabotage against the taming of mountains Attacks on anti-wolf propaganda, forestry machines, and communications infrastructure.

Communique

06-08-2017 [Bar-le-Duc, Meuse] Lots of rage and a few flames for ENEDIS – several cars burned in an ENEDIS parking lot “Notably for this company’s link to the CIGEO project, seeking to bury radioactive waste in Bure as a necessary step for the continued expansion of nuclear power.”

Communique // English

17-07-2017 [Paris] Hearing on pretrial incarceration and bail conditions “In spite of the oppressive atmosphere, some of those present in solidarity were able to show that the filthy work of the justice system isn’t concealed by the numbing normalcy of the court and answered back to the judge, yelling their rage.”

Callout and Reportback

14-07-2017 [Besancon] Solidarity glueing “The locks of real estate agencies (x5), a private security company, and a sports club geared at the rich were sabotaged with glue. All we needed were a few tooth picks, some superglue, and enough rage and openness to risk to carry out these small actions.”

Communique

02-07-2017 [Pre Saint Gervais, 93] Nighttime stroll – arson of a Stanley security vehicle “Everyone hates the police – and their proxies. Everyone can take action. […] Solidarity is attack.”

Communique

02-07-2017 [Paris, 19th district] Stroll against prisons “On Sunday July 2nd in the late afternoon, tags, stickers, posters, stencils, and leaflets, appeared in the streets of Paris’ 19th district. The Canale3 architect office at 78 Darius Milhaud alley had its facade redecorated.”

Communique

11-06-2017 [Montreuil] Bye-bye Spie Batignolle – burning of a truck belonging to Spie Batignolle, builder of prisons “In dawn’s first light this Sunday, some late revellers could spot other lights: a truck from Spie Batignolle was burning on Chanzy blvd between Montreuil and Bagnolet (yes, yes, it’s possible, even on a main street: you just have to choose your moment) (Montreuil and Batignolle are two suburbs just outside Paris).

Communique

09-06-2017 [Montreuil] Down with all prisons! – Attack on the offices of Egis Communique in the form of a cute meme where two people in Egis hard hats say, “shit, we got our windows smashed.” “I told you we should have stopped building prisons!”

Communique

08-06-2017 [Crest] Concerning dialogue, solidarity, and attack – arson of an Enedis building “We don’t live in the past and have not hope for the future. Our revolt has no tomorrow and so cannot be put off.”

Communique // English

08-06-2017 [Toulouse] Solidarity with the defendants from May 18 , Aachen, and more – burning of an Eiffage car “Yesterday I was angry. I was angry because of the 7 year sentence handed down to an anarchist accused of a bank expropriation in Aachen. Angry because judges decided to keep Kara and Krem in detention.”

Communique // English

29-05-2017 [Pantin] Combustion versus reinsertion – arson of 2 cars from Atout Bois, prison collaborator “To believe their intentions, this establishment, administered by the Youth Judicial Protection service, protects and accompanies youth caught in the claws of the justice system. Obey a boss, submit to hierarchy, respect authority, stay on the straight and narrow, accept the judge’s control over your life: a radiant future of wage labour will open before you. … Work is the best cop and reinsertion is coercion. Sabotage blocks the exploitation machine and frees up time.”

Communique

29-05-2017 [Les Lilas] Solidarity is attack – arson of a utility vehicle of the roadways division for the Paris region “We think that solidarity is a relationship of mutual recognition based on conflict with the existent. We aren’t in solidarity with misery, but with revolt.”

Communique

20-05-2017 [Paris] Solidarity rally at Place des Fetes “Sunshine, determination, and the (relative) response from the neighbourhood allowed us to make our solidarity with prisoners of the state visible, to call for the liberation of the last three accused still locked up in this case, and to express our rejection of the cops and the world they protect.”

Callout and Reportback

18-05-2017 [Rennes] We celebrate anniversaries our own way – arson of a Enedis vehicle “May 18 2016, Paris. A blue white red car burns. May 18 2017, Rennes. A blue Enedis vehicle burns.

We found this to be a better candle.”

Communique

30-04-2017 [Bagnolet] Solidarity flames – arson of a Vinci vehicle “We torched a Vinci vehicle, those builders and managers of prisons, highways, CRA and other airports.” They also slashed the tires of vehicles belonging to Sodexo, ENGIE, and JC Decaux for their connection to the prison industry.

Communique

25-04-2017 [Rennes] Against all religions and patriarchy, solidarity – hammer attack on two churches “We attacked two churches with hammers. We spit on their visions of the family, the couple, and sexuality.”

Communique

23-04-2017 [Brussels, Belgium] Why? Why not? – 4 police cars torched in solidarity “You cut a hole in the fence, and not any which one. The one that protects a rotten parking lot where 4 police cars are parked. You open your gas can, the smell is strong. Glug glug on the rear tires. You crouch down and light it. Take a minute to appreciate the sight of cop cars in flames before leaving.”

Communique

18-04-2017 [Liege, Belgium] Beautiful like a burning police station – arson attack on a police station “We aren’t soldiers, we are criminals. We have no homeland, higher cause, or orders to take from others than ourselves. And yet we fight. To recover our lives and seek our freedom. We fight against the misery of our existence, the oppression of morality, and the bars that cage us. During the night of April 18 we burned a police station in Liege, Belgium. It was completely destroyed, ravaged by the flames.”

Communique // English

08-04-2017 [Fleury-Merogis] Solidarity in struggle and against repression! Rally in front of the prison “We chanted slogans like ‘Freedom for all’, ‘fire to the prisons, with the guards in them’, ‘solidarity with prisoners, their families, their pals, and their revolt’, ‘for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd car burned, we love all barbecued pig’, ‘cop, guard, or solider, what won’t they do for a wage’ …”

Callout and reportback

01-04-2017 [Besancon] Solidarity flattening “All four wheels of a Securitas car were flattened. A company that guards the security of the rich and their property. But that also participate in reinforcing the state system and its borders: in many countries, Securitas is in charge of security in immigrant detention centres and of the deportation of migrants…“

Communique

12-03-2017 [Guillestre (Hautes-Alpes)] Kisses full of rage – tag

“As in December 2016, the large stone wall on route de la gare in Guillestre was tagged. And again, the forces of order are singled out. In total, five tags were found in the town on Thursday…” The tag read “Aulnay and those charged for the burned cop car are in our thoughts Kisses full of rage ACAB.

Mainstream media

12-03-2017 [Grenoble] Personal journal of a savage – broken windows on two banks Communique 11-03-2017 [Fleury-Merogis] Rally in front of the prison Fifty or so people rallied in front of the prison during visiting hours, sharing a meal and a microphone with family members of prisoners, making tons of noise and passing out texts against prison and its world.

Callout and Reportback

28-02-2017 [Alpes] Scale the hills – a relay antenna burned and attempted arson of several vehicles from the Liotard company “With maps, good preparations, some imagination, gasoline, knives, bolt cutters, candles, land lighters, with our limitations, our fears, and our excitement, with our rage and our determination.”

Communique

22-02-2017 [Marseille] ATM torched in solidarity “Warm greetings for all those who’ve taken to the streets these past weeks (and before!) to attack the police, the justice system, and everything that more generally spoils their lives.”

Communique

12-02-2017 [Montreuil] A small contribution to the disorder in the 93, in solidarity – arson of a COFELY vehicle (the 93 is the area code of Paris’ north and east suburbs, containing the poorest areas in France) COEFLY is tied to ENGIE, one of Europe’s largest energy companies, and owner of GEPSA, the state’s favourite private sector partner when running prisons.

Communique // English

12-02-2017 [Toulouse] Solidarity in feelings and in deeds – an Eiffage backhoe and real estate car burnt “We targeted Eiffage because it builds prisons, and a random real estate firm because they always poison our lives. […] Whether we know them or not, in France or anywhere else, we show our solidarity in deeds and in emotions when repression strikes those with whom we share a thirst for freedom and the determination to oppose all forms of power […]”

Communique // English

11-02-2017 [Besancon] Active complicity with the rebels in Aulnay and elsewhere – tags, flat tires, and broken windows for a departmental car In Aulnay, a young man, Theo, was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted by a group of cops in daylight and on camera. Their attack was met by nights of sustained rioting in Aulnay and other Parisian suburbs and by a large number of solidarity demos and attacks.

Communnique

10-02-2017 [Drome] Fiery Solidarity – Two National Front vehicles burnt “During the night of February 10 […] we burnt two vehicles belonging to the National Front and tagged “dirty fascists” on on their front entrance.

Communique // English

01-01-2017 [Fresnes and Fleury-Merogis] Solidarity greetings Midnight surprise demos outside two different prisons. Their chants seemed to be heard on the inside and they could hear people from responding.

Communique

27-11-2016 [Athens, Greece] Banner in Exarchia in Solidarity with Kara Wild “In the morning of November 25, 2016, we dropped a banner on the Polytechnic School in solidarity with Kara. We don’t give a shit if she’s innocent or not of what she’s accused of. For us, the destruction or burning of police vehicles in France or anyway is not only right, but absolutely necessary.”

Communique

04-07-2016 [Paris] A colourful attack on the Ramponeau police station, in Paris’ 20th district “Passing by Ramponeau street in the 20tharrondissement of Paris, I admired the streaks of green paint on the local police station. Whether it’s a burning car or a trashed facade, it warms the heart to see the cops taking the beatings.”

Communique

18-06-2016 [Paris] Freedom for the imprisoned demonstrators, rally in Paris at Republic square Callout Tags: Franceanarchists in troublesolidarityKara Wildcategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

Anews podcast - episode 33

Anarchist News - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 17:37

https://podcast.anarchistnews.org/index.php/2017/10/15/anews-podcast-epi...

We have to apologize for the low sound quality again this episode. Some of us are not tech-friendly, and are still figuring out the parameters.

Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 33 for October 13. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.

Editorial: Thoughts on Choosing Sides and Nationalism
TOTW – Intellectual Colonization
A101 question: How is Oppression Measured?

This podcast is the effort of many people. This week this podcast was
* sound edited by Linn O’Mable
* editorial by chisel
* written by jackie
* narrated by chisel and a friend
* Thanks to Aragorn! and Ariel for their help with the topic of the week
* Contact us at podcast@anarchistnews.org

Introduction to anarchism: http://anarchy101.org
Books and other anarchist material: http://littleblackcart.com
News and up to the minute commentary: https://anarchistnews.org

Tags: arielAragorn!nationalismoppressioncategory: Projects
Categories: News

Las Vegas massacre survivor dies abruptly after posting her detailed eyewitness account of multiple shooters on social media

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 06:57

Las Vegas massacre survivor dies abruptly after posting her detailed eyewitness account of multiple shooters on social media | 13 Oct 2017 | A woman by the name Kymberley Suchomel, 28, who attended the Oct. 1 Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, passed away Monday at her Apple Valley home just days after she had survived the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history unscathed, reports say. Suchomel, who posted her eyewitness account of the Las Vegas massacre in astonishingly vivid detail to her Facebook page on Oct. 4, subsequently passed away in her home on Oct. 9 from what reports are claiming were 'natural causes.' Shockingly, just days before her death, Suchomel posted key details about the shooting to Facebook contradicting the official narrative that Stephen Paddock is a lone gunman.

Categories: News

Students aggressively mock, harass Charles Murray at UMich

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 06:54

Students aggressively mock, harass Charles Murray at UMich | 11 Oct 2017 | Charles Murray's event at the University of Michigan was completely overthrown by student protesters, who occupied the auditorium and loudly interrupted Murray for 40 minutes before sauntering out of the room. The event, set to begin at 6:00 p.m. EST, was immediately shut down by protesters before Murray even was given a chance to begin as one demonstrator projected a "white supremacist" hologram above his head...Until protesters left the venue, Murray was allowed only brief periods to speak, as one protester took to the stage to ask him a question.

Categories: News

Trump's decision to decertify nuclear deal harms US credibility - Iranian FM

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 06:45

Trump's decision to decertify nuclear deal harms US credibility - Iranian FM | 14 Oct 2017 | US President Donald Trump's recent decision not to recertify Tehran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement will only undermine Washington's own credibility in the international arena, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. "Nobody else will trust any US administration to engage in any long-term negotiation because the length of any commitment, the duration of any commitment from now on with any US administration would be the remainder of the term of that president," the top Iranian diplomat told CBS News.

Categories: News

Mexico: Call from Anarchist Prisoner Fernando Bárcenas to Support the Autonomous Prison Library Project

It's Goin Down - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 05:32

The post Mexico: Call from Anarchist Prisoner Fernando Bárcenas to Support the Autonomous Prison Library Project appeared first on It's Going Down.

10.10.17: To the rebellious compañerxs

I write to all those who build their paths of autonomy, to remember that within these walls we try to steal our precious time from the machinery, generating moments of clarity in a suffocating world…that is how, in recent years, proposals for resistance have emerged, from isolated struggles in forgotten areas, screams that are lost in the darkness, to moments of informal organization in the daily life of the open regime, in other words in the general population, where almost three years agao the idea emerged to create an alternative space where prisoners could show that there is already enough of such annihilation, we know that the prison system is designed to subject our minds and bodies to the structure of commerce, so we are not going to ask them to change, we know that money is the language of the powerful and for that reason we have no requests, we just want to self-manage our lives within these walls because we know that all their social rehabilitation programs seek to create are submissive, repentant, guilty beings who will accept slave labor at the hands of prison officials.

So the idea of establishing an alternative library in the auditorium of the Northern Prison has emerged. But to build this project of autonomy and to ensure it succeeds, we need your support and solidarity, because within prison we are repressed more effectively and that is why this is a call to all those who know that in this war, we need them, only with you can we gain the strength to confront the rotten logic of the system…

Do not leave us alone in building a space for more autonomy, our struggle is no less important, we are also slaves, children of a war, labelled criminals, and this is why they marginalize us, but together with you we can demonstrate that we are capable of living in freedom in the here and now, even though it is behind stone walls…

That is why we ask for support to maintain this project, the autonomous library in the Northern Prison.

With love and strength to all,

Fernando Bárcenas

(via Contra Info, translated by Insurrection News)

Categories: News

‘Leif Erickson Day Celebration 2017’: Slim Pickings for the Boneheads

It's Goin Down - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 05:26

The post ‘Leif Erickson Day Celebration 2017’: Slim Pickings for the Boneheads appeared first on It's Going Down.

It didn’t take long for antifa to mobilize against the latest outing by the Keystone State ‘Skinheads’ (KSS) and friends and even less time to send them packing. Props go to Philly!

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Oct. 14, 2017 – Alerted by a tip off, antifa from Philadelphia and other areas of the state were able to rout a significantly small group of neo-Nazis who came out for the “Leif Erickson Day Celebration” on Boathouse Row. Antifa were also able to for the first time converge on their after rally event at a park in South Philadelphia, which ended in an altercation that had the neo-Nazis cut their event short.

Each year for the past decade, KSS, which prefers to go by the name Keystone United, would attempt to hold a rally at the statue of the Icelandic explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni, but after 2013, when there was a massive number that turned out to oppose them, they have attempted to conceal the event from the public to avoid such opposition, even holding the rally at night. This year, they attempted to hold an afternoon event once again and were set upon by antifa before they even left their usual staging area at the gazebo in nearby Fairmont Park that overlooks the statue. This marked the first time in four years the neo-Nazis were opposed.

A paltry 24 persons came out to rally this year, but even with the short notice antifa managed to bring out 30 to counter protest. At a nearby pavilion in Fairmont Park, there was a memorial service for a bike messenger that recently passed away, and while no one attending the service participated in the counter demonstration, some speakers shouted out their contempt for the assembled neo-Nazis to cheers.

Those among the neo-Nazis, who came from as far as Albany, NY and Indiana with just a few of them currently living in Philadelphia, were many that have been seen in past years, but new faces included Mark Daniel Reardon, who according to Philly Antifa fled his apartment when community members learned that he had posted fliers around West Philadelphia, looking to recruit for a violent neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen and model Bryan Christopher Sawyer, who does work for the White Supremacist podcast Red Ice and once lost his job at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts when he videotaped himself harassing a Black woman with racial slurs, posting the video on his Facebook page.

KSS associate and convicted felon Tim Wylie also participated in the rally, and on Thursday, he is scheduled to appear in court on weapons charges, including one for providing false information on an application while attempting to purchase a firearm in July 2016. He has participated in a number of rallies and events with KSS in the past, including an anti-refugee rally in the Pennsylvania State House in 2015.

After some time at the gazebo, the rally participants then march down to the statue with antifa in front of them chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!” and antifa then blocked them from getting near the statue and began either shouting back and forth with the neo-Nazis, or loudly debated them, KSS associate Bob Gaus, who appeared to lead the rally denying that neither he nor anyone he was with was a Nazi, but instead a White Nationalist.

Although according to some information, the plan was supposed to have been to march to the Washington Monument in front of the nearby Philadelphia Art Museum, the presence of antifa might have thwarted those plans, and the assembled retreated back into Fairmont Park to return to their vehicles. It was learned however that they ended up in South Philadelphia at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park for an after party, and antifa followed them there. At some point there was an altercation, at which time the neo-Nazis ended their event and left the park.

One week earlier three times as many antifascists came out to the same statue to claim it and the day from the neo-Nazis that annually hold their event in that location. No neo-Nazis came to oppose or attempt an event last week, although police fortified the statue, which was vandalized with red paint, with barricades and officers guarding it.

Categories: News

Puerto Rico: Building A Future Based On Mutual Aid

It's Goin Down - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 05:14

The post Puerto Rico: Building A Future Based On Mutual Aid appeared first on It's Going Down.

We drove through neighborhoods in the mountains with local residents and our comrades from Guaynabo, delivered food, cases of water, water purification tablets, and provided health care to elderly residents and their families sweltering in damaged homes, surrounded by narrow, perilous roads with no power and waning supplies. We are sharing our time, access to resources, knowledge, skills and quickly beating hearts to contribute to people’s survival and self-determination. It is all part of horizontal, participatory, solidarity-based, liberatory mutual aid disaster relief.

Mutual aid, itself, has been here since before Hurricane Maria and embodied by self-organized groups like Sonadora En Acción and Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana. Larger, but also grassroots organizations like Taller Salud and Crowdrescuehq are also spearheading people-powered relief efforts. As wildfires blaze to the west, people in Mexico are still digging out rubble from the earthquake, Houston residents are still cleaning up flooded homes, and people impacted by Irma remain houseless in Florida, we know there is a long road ahead. This is to say nothing of the centuries old disasters of colonization.

Rather than running off of a cliff and thinking we won’t fall if we don’t look down, we realize sustainable and autonomous energy, water, and communications is needed now more than ever if we are to avert the worst of climate chaos. We are raising funds to install modular water and solar systems in heavily impacted rural areas of Puerto Rico. To help us with this project click here.

Or purchase something directly through our Amazon wishlist.

In addition to our ongoing wellness survival program, we have also been partnering with Sanando Puerto Rico to set up clinics and provide free medical aid throughout Puerto Rico. To support Sanando Puerto Rico, click here.

Mutual aid is a revolutionary concept whose time has come and there is so much history that we invite you to help write with us. Got skills in environmental engineering, photovoltaic solar installation, Spanish, or solidarity-based grassroots efforts? Fill out our volunteer form.

Living in south Florida? Want to prepare for when another disaster strikes or 911 and the state cannot be relied upon for our emergency medical needs? Click here to register and come to an emergency medic intensive training.

We will keep building power while the lights are out because we know nothing gets us closer to the better world we know is possible more than embodying it in our current actions. Elders have taught us, and we echo them – we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Categories: News

Verdict Handed Down as Solidarity Actions Grow for Kara Wild

It's Goin Down - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 04:14

The post Verdict Handed Down as Solidarity Actions Grow for Kara Wild appeared first on It's Going Down.

Across the world, actions are happening in solidarity with Kara Wild, an anarchist from the US who was swept up in resistance to French Labor Reform Laws aimed against the young and poor. Along with several others, Kara is accused of taking part in the burning of a police car in the midst of a riot. According to Free Kara Wild

Kara Wild is an artist, comrade and resilient force of nature, currently being detained in France for her alleged participation in a protest against draconian labor reforms and police repression. She is a trans woman and is currently being held in a men’s jail. She is also a U.S. citizen and has been denied bond because French authorities consider her a flight risk.

On May 18th, thousands of people converged in Paris to defy an ongoing siege of police violence and to oppose a new neoliberal labor reform. During one of these marches a police car was attacked and set on fire. Kara was brutally arrested in connection to this incident more than a full week later, on May 26th, at a separate event near La Place de la Nation. Despite a distinct lack of evidence, she is being accused of smashing a pole through a police car’s windshield moments before it was set on fire. Her charges are, “attempted voluntary manslaughter of a person holding public office, destruction of property, group violence and participating in a masked armed group.”

Kara is among 6 people currently facing charges in connection to this incident. To make matters worse, France’s Prime Minister, Manuel Valls is vowing to execute “unrelenting punishment,” in order to set an example and de-mobilize protests.

Despite attacks by the state, global movements against capitalism, white supremacy, hetero-sexist patriarchy and austerity grow stronger each day, from Paris to Oaxaca. As the flames of resistance multiply this summer, let us make sure not to leave our friends behind! Please help us support Kara Wild by writing to her, donating to her defense fund, and spreading the word about her case.

Freedom to all political prisoners! Freedom to all transwomen prisoners! Freedom to all prisoners!

Several days ago, a judge handed out a verdict of up to seven years for several people that the State accused of being involved in the burning, as a group of over 40 demonstrated outside. Kara, who has already been incarcerated for several years, received another two years added onto her sentence. In the lead-up to the verdict, solidarity actions have taken place across the US and Europe. According to Paris Luttes.Info

The trial is ongoing for nine people accused of participating in the burning of a police car on May 18th2016 in Paris. Because solidarity attacks continue to occur throughout the French territory around the trial dates, here is an attempt at an exhaustive chronology of direct actions carried out in solidarity with those accused in this case.

All links in this article are to French-language communiques unless stated otherwise. All actions are in France unless a country is indicated. Since most of the texts linked to have not been previously translated, we opted to simply translate a sentence or two from each one to give a sense of the action, in addition to providing the link. All italics are translators notes.

Many of these actions specifically name Kara and Krem, two anarchists still in custody in this case. Krem was based in the Paris area prior to his arrest, while Kara is from the United States. Their verdict is expected on October 11, 2017.

Keep an eye on Free Kara Wild for more info, updates, and how to donate.

Action Roundup From Paris Luttes.Info: Date Title of communique or details of the action Links and Quotations

11-10-2017

[US] Sheriff tires slashed and yuppie storefront windows smashed.

“Last week, we decided to ring in Kara Wild’s trial in Paris by raining the streets of Chicago with shattered glass and popping a cop tire for each month that she has spent in prison. The windows of yuppie shops on the thoroughly gentrified north side stood tall and vulnerable to our hammers. The tires of sheriff cars, brazenly parked on residential streets, challenged us to immobilize them.”

Communique

08-10-2017

[US] Graffiti painted.

“After being held for the past seventeen months in the largest prison in Europe, without so much as a trial date to give her solace, Kara Wild is now back in grueling prison purgatory waiting for her verdict to be announced on October 11th.”

Communique

27-09-2017

[Paris] Demo in the courthouse during the trial

“The court room emptied while Kara and Krem were handcuffed and taken back to prison. Cries of ‘freedom’ echoed through the halls of the Paris Superior Court”

Communique // Callout

27-09-2017

[Berlin] Broken windows at the Bundesdruckerei building (federal printers in charge of money, passports, etc) and of the media firm DuMont, in particular in solidarity with Kara and Krem

The communique situates the attacks in the context of the recent G20 summit in Hamburg and particularly focuses on the role of the media in legitimizing the state while attacking its opponents.

Communique (in German)

25-09-2017

[Besancon] A little stroll to get the week off to a good start – solidarity tags

“Monday night we got together for a rowdy little stroll through the downtown. We used the occasion to make clear our disgust for property and its defenders by repainting the facades of several real estate agencies.”

Communique

23-09-2017

[Clermont-Ferrand] A few flames – municipal truck burned

“I just needed to let the darkness out of me a bit and have it turn against this world.”

Communique

22-09-2017

[Bagnolet-Montreuil] Stroll through Bagnolet and Montreuil (leafleting, postering, tags, and traffic slowdown)

22-09-2017

[Berlin] Solidarity rally “Until all police cars burn, until everyone is free”

“Solidarity to our friends in France. We are following the ongoing trials on the burning copcar in Paris with one laughing and one sad eye. It is a relief to hear that atleast some are not joining their game and keep their mouths shut.”

Communique (English and German) // Photo

22-09-2017 [Paris]A few messages for the accused in the pig-mobile case – solidarity banners The banners read: “Freedom for the Quai de Valmy 9”; “Blue burns well” “Solidarity with kara and krem, Freedom for all” “From Paris to flames in Grenoble and Limoges.

Communique 21-09-2017 [Grenoble] Incediary Solidarity – a gendarmerie hangar containing 50 vehicles was burned “Made it into the gendarmerie (military police) compound in Vigny-Mussey. Burned 6 response wagons and 2 logistics trucks. Over 1500 square metres of the garage and warehouse were destroyed […] Our hostility is a spreading flame.”

Communique / tor / English 20-09-2017 [Paris} Rally in front of the courthouse Solidarity rally with those targeted by searches in Bure (a land-defense occupation in Western France against a nucelar waste dump) and those charged with the burning of the police car.

Callout 19-09-2017 5 gendarmerie vehicles burned “In the night of September 18 2017, we, as former gendarmes, collectively decided to burn 3 wagons and two buses from the gendermerie in the Jourdan compound in Limoges.”

Communique 19-09-2017 [Paris] Rally in front of the Superior Court in Paris, called by the Social Front (a left-wing formation of unions and grassroots groups) “A considerable crowd (more than 200 people) has gathered in the hall of lost steps (in this section of the court, the glass floor in the level above shows the milling footsteps of those attending court)! The lawyers are fighting for a larger room so that all supporters can enter. The struggle was victorious since the hearing is adjourned.”

Callout 19-09-2017 [Basel, Switzerland] A little knifework in solidarity with the trial of those charges with burning a police car in Paris This text claims responsibility for slashing the tires of dozens of cars belonging to Bouygues (a technology company that also builds prisons), Adecco (a temp agency), local government, Enedis (electricity company involved in pushing forward a nuclear waste dump in Bure), Siemens (for their work in surveillance), ABB (automatisation), and Impenia, Alpiq and EAGB who are involved in prison construction.

Communique (Translated in French)

In German 19-09-2017 [Toulouse] Quai de Valmy – It’s fair to return fire A banner reading “In the Quai de Valmy case: Fire to the inquisitors” was hung from the historical Convent of the Jacobins, a site strongly linked to the Inquisition.

Communique 19-09-2017 [Les Lilas, 93] 3 autolib are burned(Les Lilas is just outside of Paris proper and autolib is a car share service) “With this simple act, we hope to express our solidarity with Kara and Krem who go to trial today … Because we appreciate clear and coherent postures when facing the justice system.”

Communique 18-09-2017 [Paris] Rally in solidarity with those charged with burning the police car Over a hundred people gathered at Place des Fetes and did huge wheat pastes of slogans like “Police and Justice Defend the Rich” and carried banners “This week’s menu: lawyer purée, paired with roast pig served with screws and onions, and judges caramelized in whipped cream-of-prosecutor.”

Callout and reportback 17-09-2017 [Fleury-Merogis] Wildcat prison visit and fireworks “An hour after night fall, twenty of us took the muddy path that leads towards the enclosure of this concrete monstrosity. Some firecrackers, shouts, and fireworks broke the silence that reign there and a multitude of voices responded from inside the prison”(Fleury-Merogis is home to Europe’s largest prison, the one that holds Kara and Krem).

Communique 14-09-2017 [Paris] Singin in the rain – broken windows and tags against the prison system’s collaborators “Overnight between the 13th and 14th of November, we smashed the windows of the offices of the association ‘Communication Integration Training Learning.’”

Communique 11-09-2017 [Marseille] Fewer ankle bracelets, more fresh air! – Windows smashed at a branch of Correctional Services’ Insertion and Probation section “With all the windows on its two entrances off Negresko and Paulet streets broken, this disgraceful place should feel a bit less carceral than usual.”

Communique 10-09-2017 [Bagnolet] Arson in solidarity with anarchist prisoners – Orange (communications company) utility vehicle burnt “Fire and flames against this world!”

Communique 22-08-2017 [Orbeil (Puy-de-Dome)] The summer is for grilling antenna relays – arson attack against two antenna relays “In the early morning of August 22, we set a fire up there on the hill. In Moida, two relay antennas that provide telephone service from Issoire to Brioude, as well as broadcasting several radio stations, were burned. Short of shutting off all the city lights, we could at least unplug their smartphones. “ The fire spread along the cables to also seriously damage two buildings.

Communique// English 22-08-2017 [Besancon] From each burning cop car blows a wind of freedom – solidarity banners “Freedom will bloom on the corpses of police.”

Communique // English 20-08-2017 [Paris] Burning of a truck belonging to Eiffage, a prison builder, on rue Compans in the 19th district “We’re impatient. We don’t give a shit about the masses. And class… we never liked school. Rather than the Revolution – an illusion – we prefer fiery early mornings.”

Communique 19-08-2017 [Cevennes] Audacious, we wanted to burn the heavens – sabotage against the taming of mountains Attacks on anti-wolf propaganda, forestry machines, and communications infrastructure.

Communique 06-08-2017 [Bar-le-Duc, Meuse] Lots of rage and a few flames for ENEDIS – several cars burned in an ENEDIS parking lot “Notably for this company’s link to the CIGEO project, seeking to bury radioactive waste in Bure as a necessary step for the continued expansion of nuclear power.”

Communique // English 17-07-2017 [Paris] Hearing on pretrial incarceration and bail conditions “In spite of the oppressive atmosphere, some of those present in solidarity were able to show that the filthy work of the justice system isn’t concealed by the numbing normalcy of the court and answered back to the judge, yelling their rage.”

Callout and Reportback 14-07-2017 [Besancon] Solidarity glueing “The locks of real estate agencies (x5), a private security company, and a sports club geared at the rich were sabotaged with glue. All we needed were a few tooth picks, some superglue, and enough rage and openness to risk to carry out these small actions.”

Communique 02-07-2017 [Pre Saint Gervais, 93] Nighttime stroll – arson of a Stanley security vehicle “Everyone hates the police – and their proxies. Everyone can take action. […] Solidarity is attack.”

Communique 02-07-2017 [Paris, 19th district] Stroll against prisons “On Sunday July 2nd in the late afternoon, tags, stickers, posters, stencils, and leaflets, appeared in the streets of Paris’ 19th district. The Canale3 architect office at 78 Darius Milhaud alley had its facade redecorated.”

Communique 11-06-2017 [Montreuil] Bye-bye Spie Batignolle – burning of a truck belonging to Spie Batignolle, builder of prisons “In dawn’s first light this Sunday, some late revellers could spot other lights: a truck from Spie Batignolle was burning on Chanzy blvd between Montreuil and Bagnolet (yes, yes, it’s possible, even on a main street: you just have to choose your moment) (Montreuil and Batignolle are two suburbs just outside Paris).

Communique 09-06-2017 [Montreuil] Down with all prisons! – Attack on the offices of Egis Communique in the form of a cute meme where two people in Egis hard hats say, “shit, we got our windows smashed.” “I told you we should have stopped building prisons!”

Communique 08-06-2017 [Crest] Concerning dialogue, solidarity, and attack – arson of an Enedis building “We don’t live in the past and have not hope for the future. Our revolt has no tomorrow and so cannot be put off.”

Communique // English 08-06-2017 [Toulouse] Solidarity with the defendants from May 18 , Aachen, and more – burning of an Eiffage car “Yesterday I was angry. I was angry because of the 7 year sentence handed down to an anarchist accused of a bank expropriation in Aachen. Angry because judges decided to keep Kara and Krem in detention.”

Communique // English 29-05-2017 [Pantin] Combustion versus reinsertion – arson of 2 cars from Atout Bois, prison collaborator “To believe their intentions, this establishment, administered by the Youth Judicial Protection service, protects and accompanies youth caught in the claws of the justice system. Obey a boss, submit to hierarchy, respect authority, stay on the straight and narrow, accept the judge’s control over your life: a radiant future of wage labour will open before you. … Work is the best cop and reinsertion is coercion. Sabotage blocks the exploitation machine and frees up time.”

Communique 29-05-2017 [Les Lilas] Solidarity is attack – arson of a utility vehicle of the roadways division for the Paris region “We think that solidarity is a relationship of mutual recognition based on conflict with the existent. We aren’t in solidarity with misery, but with revolt.”

Communique 20-05-2017 [Paris] Solidarity rally at Place des Fetes “Sunshine, determination, and the (relative) response from the neighbourhood allowed us to make our solidarity with prisoners of the state visible, to call for the liberation of the last three accused still locked up in this case, and to express our rejection of the cops and the world they protect.”

Callout and Reportback 18-05-2017 [Rennes] We celebrate anniversaries our own way – arson of a Enedis vehicle “May 18 2016, Paris. A blue white red car burns. May 18 2017, Rennes. A blue Enedis vehicle burns.

We found this to be a better candle.”

Communique 30-04-2017 [Bagnolet] Solidarity flames – arson of a Vinci vehicle “We torched a Vinci vehicle, those builders and managers of prisons, highways, CRA and other airports.” They also slashed the tires of vehicles belonging to Sodexo, ENGIE, and JC Decaux for their connection to the prison industry.

Communique 25-04-2017 [Rennes] Against all religions and patriarchy, solidarity – hammer attack on two churches “We attacked two churches with hammers. We spit on their visions of the family, the couple, and sexuality.”

Communique 23-04-2017 [Brussels, Belgium] Why? Why not? – 4 police cars torched in solidarity “You cut a hole in the fence, and not any which one. The one that protects a rotten parking lot where 4 police cars are parked. You open your gas can, the smell is strong. Glug glug on the rear tires. You crouch down and light it. Take a minute to appreciate the sight of cop cars in flames before leaving.”

Communique 18-04-2017 [Liege, Belgium] Beautiful like a burning police station – arson attack on a police station “We aren’t soldiers, we are criminals. We have no homeland, higher cause, or orders to take from others than ourselves. And yet we fight. To recover our lives and seek our freedom. We fight against the misery of our existence, the oppression of morality, and the bars that cage us. During the night of April 18 we burned a police station in Liege, Belgium. It was completely destroyed, ravaged by the flames.”

Communique // English 08-04-2017 [Fleury-Merogis] Solidarity in struggle and against repression! Rally in front of the prison “We chanted slogans like ‘Freedom for all’, ‘fire to the prisons, with the guards in them’, ‘solidarity with prisoners, their families, their pals, and their revolt’, ‘for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd car burned, we love all barbecued pig’, ‘cop, guard, or solider, what won’t they do for a wage’ …”

Callout and reportback 01-04-2017 [Besancon] Solidarity flattening “All four wheels of a Securitas car were flattened. A company that guards the security of the rich and their property. But that also participate in reinforcing the state system and its borders: in many countries, Securitas is in charge of security in immigrant detention centres and of the deportation of migrants…“

Communique 12-03-2017 [Guillestre (Hautes-Alpes)] Kisses full of rage – tag

“As in December 2016, the large stone wall on route de la gare in Guillestre was tagged. And again, the forces of order are singled out. In total, five tags were found in the town on Thursday…” The tag read “Aulnay and those charged for the burned cop car are in our thoughts Kisses full of rage ACAB.

Mainstream media

12-03-2017 [Grenoble] Personal journal of a savage – broken windows on two banks Communique 11-03-2017 [Fleury-Merogis] Rally in front of the prison Fifty or so people rallied in front of the prison during visiting hours, sharing a meal and a microphone with family members of prisoners, making tons of noise and passing out texts against prison and its world.

Callout and Reportback 28-02-2017 [Alpes] Scale the hills – a relay antenna burned and attempted arson of several vehicles from the Liotard company “With maps, good preparations, some imagination, gasoline, knives, bolt cutters, candles, land lighters, with our limitations, our fears, and our excitement, with our rage and our determination.”

Communique 22-02-2017 [Marseille] ATM torched in solidarity “Warm greetings for all those who’ve taken to the streets these past weeks (and before!) to attack the police, the justice system, and everything that more generally spoils their lives.”

Communique 12-02-2017 [Montreuil] A small contribution to the disorder in the 93, in solidarity – arson of a COFELY vehicle (the 93 is the area code of Paris’ north and east suburbs, containing the poorest areas in France) COEFLY is tied to ENGIE, one of Europe’s largest energy companies, and owner of GEPSA, the state’s favourite private sector partner when running prisons.

Communique // English 12-02-2017 [Toulouse] Solidarity in feelings and in deeds – an Eiffage backhoe and real estate car burnt “We targeted Eiffage because it builds prisons, and a random real estate firm because they always poison our lives. […] Whether we know them or not, in France or anywhere else, we show our solidarity in deeds and in emotions when repression strikes those with whom we share a thirst for freedom and the determination to oppose all forms of power […]”

Communique // English 11-02-2017 [Besancon] Active complicity with the rebels in Aulnay and elsewhere – tags, flat tires, and broken windows for a departmental car In Aulnay, a young man, Theo, was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted by a group of cops in daylight and on camera. Their attack was met by nights of sustained rioting in Aulnay and other Parisian suburbs and by a large number of solidarity demos and attacks.

Communnique 10-02-2017 [Drome] Fiery Solidarity – Two National Front vehicles burnt “During the night of February 10 […] we burnt two vehicles belonging to the National Front and tagged “dirty fascists” on on their front entrance.

Communique // English 01-01-2017 [Fresnes and Fleury-Merogis] Solidarity greetings Midnight surprise demos outside two different prisons. Their chants seemed to be heard on the inside and they could hear people from responding.

Communique 27-11-2016 [Athens, Greece] Banner in Exarchia in Solidarity with Kara Wild “In the morning of November 25, 2016, we dropped a banner on the Polytechnic School in solidarity with Kara. We don’t give a shit if she’s innocent or not of what she’s accused of. For us, the destruction or burning of police vehicles in France or anyway is not only right, but absolutely necessary.”

Communique 04-07-2016 [Paris] A colourful attack on the Ramponeau police station, in Paris’ 20th district “Passing by Ramponeau street in the 20tharrondissement of Paris, I admired the streaks of green paint on the local police station. Whether it’s a burning car or a trashed facade, it warms the heart to see the cops taking the beatings.”

Communique 18-06-2016 [Paris] Freedom for the imprisoned demonstrators, rally in Paris at Republic square Callout

Categories: News

Dean Baker on the GOP Tax Plan: 80 Percent of the Benefit Is Going to the Richest 1 Percent

Truth Out - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 04:00

 Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)President Donald Trump participates in a tax reform kickoff event at the Loren Cook Company in Springfield, Missouri, on August 30, 2017. (Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)

Janine Jackson: The key part of the Republican tax plan, CNBC explained, isn't the individual or even the corporate tax rates. The big news is that it doubles the standard deduction and provides significant relief and simplicity for most taxpayers.

And just to be clear, they added, "This should be the focus of the tax reform debate, not the endless old argument about benefits for the rich." A separate report noted that administration officials are abandoning their oft-voiced deficit concerns, because of the amazing "growth" the plan will generate.

What's a lay person to think? Here to help us understand is economist Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He joins us now by phone from DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Dean Baker.

Dean Baker: Thanks a lot for having me on.

To the extent that there is an "endless old argument about benefits for the rich," it seems clear that the rich keep winning it. So this doubling of the standard deduction, does that make the case that, contrary to all expectations, this is tax reform for the little guy?

No, and it's kind of incredible anyone really even tried to pass that off. Because coupled with doubling the standard deduction, they're eliminating the personal exemption, so the basic story -- I should have exact numbers, but the current standard deduction is roughly $6,000 and change. So they double it to $12,000 and change, and they're getting rid of the personal exemption, which is roughly $4,800.

Now, that puts you up somewhat ahead, but there are two points to keep in mind. One is that the personal exemption increases with inflation; at least, that's the current law. So ten years from now, it'd be roughly 20 percent higher, it'd be roughly $6,000, basically putting you even.

By 2027, the Tax Policy Center estimates, about 80 percent of the benefits of the GOP tax plan would be going to the top 1 percent.

The other part of the story is that they're actually raising the tax rate. The bottom tax rate is currently 10 percent; they would raise it to 12 percent. Now, one of the things they haven't filled in is where all the rates would cut off, where exactly the brackets would be. But in any case, doubling the standard deduction is likely to mean very little for most people, which is part of the reason that most of the estimates show roughly 80 percent of the benefits going to the richest 1 percent. So I can understand the people in the richest 1 percent telling us not to pay attention, but that's a big deal.

CNBC, that same piece, says that it's "about as far as you can get from tax plans that supposedly only favor the 1 percent, or rely on trickle-down theories to boost the overall economy." Hmm.

You know, the only thing I could say, if you want to be generous, is maybe they were confused and missed the part about eliminating the personal exemption, which would be kind of astounding. It's clear the bulk of the benefits are going to the richest 1 percent. You get rid of the estate tax; you lower the top tax bracket, 39 to 35 percent; you have a special tax rate for pass-through income, like what Donald Trump gets his income through, at just 25 percent. These are benefiting the rich and no one else.

I couldn't really think that any thinking person imagined that the plan would not benefit Trump himself. I would think his base would think he was a fool for making a plan that wouldn't benefit himself. You know, that's not the winner they voted for. Is there more to say about the part of the plan that CNBC says we should look away from, you know, what it does for the wealthy?

Well, in terms of benefiting Trump, it is almost as though he designed a plan that would personally benefit him. I mean, I don't quite think that's the case. But, again, I mentioned the estate tax, that it would get rid of that. Just to be clear, the estate tax applies to almost no one. It allows personal exemptions of $5 million. That means a couple gets to exempt $10 million, and that's roughly two-tenths of 1 percent of estates, that get above $10 million. You have to be pretty well off, that's not just a successful small businessperson.

He also proposes getting rid of the alternative minimum tax. And in the one tax form that was leaked or he released, however we got it, that became public, he was subject to the alternative minimum tax. This was put in place in the '86 tax reform, saying if you manage to reduce your tax liability by getting through all these other loopholes, you're going to have to at least pay 25 percent in the alternative minimum tax.  Well he gets rid of that.

And then the pass-through business income. Basically, it makes zero sense. The notion of a pass-through corporation is the corporation itself pays zero tax, you just pass the profits on. To my view, that's kind of an outrage to begin with, because at least if they get protection as a corporation, limited liability, why shouldn't they pay tax? But in any case, we do that. So they pay zero tax, and then they pass it on to an individual, and you're taxed on it just like your wage income, which is ordinary income.

What this says is, no, it doesn't matter what tax bracket you're in, so if you're in the highest tax bracket, if you're in the 39 percent bracket, or 35 under their plan, you would still only pay tax at a 25 percent rate, because it came through a pass-through corporation. It's just kind of a head-scratcher. Why would you do that?

And, naturally, it would create a huge business in tax avoidance, because everyone -- at least every wealthy person -- is going to figure out how to have their income come through a pass-through corporation, so they could have a 10 percentage point reduction in their tax rates. Not what you want to do with tax reform.

headline in the New York Times said, "In Trump Tax Plan, a Windfall for Businesses Large and Small." Among the things that it indicates are "an easy way to bring overseas profits back to the United States without being taxed." What am I missing about what's so great for the country at large to let corporations bring profits back without those profits being taxed?

Well, there's a couple issues here. First off, there's already roughly $2 trillion -- we don't have an exact number, somewhere in the order of $2 trillion -- in foreign profits of US corporations that are stashed overseas, at least on paper. Those currently couldn't come back unless they were taxed. What they're proposing is to have some tax holiday -- we did this in 2005, where it was brought back at a 5 percent tax rate -- where they could bring it back and pay very little tax on it. So it says it's going to do that, but it doesn't say what the rate is. That's one of the things, I guess, to be decided later. Kind of a big thing.

But the other thing, that's of course of more consequence going forward, is it shifts our tax to a territorial tax. And what that would mean is that corporations would only be taxed on their US profits; whatever they earn overseas, they pay zero US tax on. Now, that's not particularly any boon to the US, but it gets worse, because we don't know where corporations are actually getting their profits. So you've just given them a huge incentive to lie to us about where their profits are, and that's become increasingly easy, because you have companies like Apple and Pfizer and others, where much or all of their profit is associated with intellectual property claims. And we don't know where Apple's great innovation for the iPhone came from, so they're going to tell us it came in Ireland, where the tax rate's just 12.5 percent. And then they don't have to pay our tax rate; they'll just pay Ireland's tax rate. I have a hard time seeing why that's good for people in the United States.

The plan, of course, is still evolving. But the New York Times says, "Business leaders were nonetheless quick to applaud the broad outlines of the proposal, claiming that tax cuts would spur new investment and grow the economy." I wonder if I could ask you, first, what it actually means to "grow the economy," and then, does this plan do that?

It's an improper use of the word "grow," but that dates back to Bill Clinton. But, you know, whatever. It's supposed to be transitive. "Make the economy grow," in other words, would be the way one would ordinarily say it, but that's I guess passé, to use the correct grammar.

But in any case, it would mean more rampant economic growth. But you're very hard-pressed to see how that would come from this plan.

So the question is, would there be some spurt of investment? And a lot of research on this issue, the idea that lower tax rates are going to lead to more investment; I can't say it's going to lead to zero more investment, but certainly not any big flood of more investment. And the idea it would have a measurable uptick in growth, that's really not a plausible story. So their claims -- they're talking about increasing growth rate 5 percentage points -- they're just pulling numbers out of the air. There's literally nothing to support that.

Finally, I find the approach of a lot of coverage disconcerting, whether Trump Republicans will get a "win" after their "loss" on ACA repeal. But also, coverage sort of separates and counterposes individuals and businesses and the economy at large, almost as if those were competing forces. But, clearly, I can gain something as an individual, but lose it again and then some if the labor market is impacted, and then again if the broader economy is harmed in some way. Is there a better way to talk about tax policy?

Certainly, again, the "win" stuff, the horse race stuff, there's a lot of that, and that's unfortunate. I mean, people want to read that, and that's OK. But that shouldn't be the dominant story, and unfortunately it takes that form. But one of the things that you and I both have alluded to -- it's not a complete plan, which is a little bit astounding, given that they're working on it for months, and they've been talking about tax reform literally for years, that they throw this on the table. And, in fact, the president's chief economic adviser, Kevin Hassett, criticized the analyses because they said, well, they're making analyses of partial plans. And he's right, but why are they putting a partial plan on the table?

The other point though is, yes, ultimately, at the end of the day, people want to know how this is going to affect their lives. And on the one hand, there's sort of the immediate impact: OK, am I going to pay more in taxes? That's kind of hard to say, at this point, for most people. I mean, odds are for most people, it won't mean much difference. It will for the rich and the very rich.

The other part is, OK, let's carry through their logic. What would it mean -- you know, you'd asked the question before about "grow the economy." So what would that mean, what's a plausible story there? Well, the story they would like to tell is, OK, you'll have more growth, that will mean higher wages, more jobs. That's the story they would like to tell. There's really no plausible way of getting from here to there.

And then if you add in, OK, you're creating large deficits. I mean, they're denying this, and I'm not the big deficit hawk, but you are creating large deficits, and there's good reason to believe that the day after they pass this thing, they'll start screaming about deficits, and then they'll say, OK, we have to cut spending. And they're not going to be cutting the military, so what that means is they'll be cutting Medicare and Medicaid, maybe Social Security. Who knows what will be on the chopping block? But these are going to be programs that people depend on.

We've been speaking with Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. They're online at cepr.net, where you can also find Dean's blog, Beat the Press. Dean Baker, thanks for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

Thanks a lot for having me on.

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Categories: News

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